Book Review: Selected Tweets by Tao Lin & Mira Gonzalez

Please note that this interview was originally published on our old website in 2015, before our parent nonprofit—then called Tethered by Letters (TBL)—had rebranded as Brink Literacy Project. In the interests of accuracy we have retained the original wording of the interview.

A critical review of Selected Tweets, comprised entirely of tweets:

This review was the absolute worst I’ve so far had to write. Ad litteram everything I tried in regular format didn’t work out.

I inadvertently ended up avoiding this review quite a lot, to be honest, as I didn’t know what exactly to say.

You’ll find, I’m sure, it’s almost impossible to write about a collection of things which—in and of themselves—seem inconsequential.

And this is what tweets are, or rather more-so what they appear to be: inconsequential.

But I wanted to look into a proper method of demonstrating that these things can, in fact, be used properly as a medium.

And so I had the absolutely poor and unfounded idea to get creative with the project—this review being the result:

Selected Tweets is the result of a joint collaboration between alt lit writers Tao Lin (@tao_lin) and Mira Gonzalez (@miragonz).

It ostensibly collects about 5-7 years’ worth of tweets from the two figures, the majority I can assume weren’t written in the…

“publication” mindset. For as candid as tweets can get, these are basically the epitome of genuine.

I make this disclaimer only because the collection might otherwise seem to have been sponsored and funded by Xanax and Xanax alone.

Appearance-wise, Selected Tweets is a work of art: Illustrated, naugahyde-bound, and its cover silk-screened with faux-gold and silver.

On public transportation, I actually took measures to communicate to people that it wasn’t the bible I had, but probably the total opposite.

It’s split almost directly in half between Mira and Tao, with collections from various accounts and “bonus” essays to cap them off.

There are also drawings by the two contributors scattered throughout, be they of their various subjects…

Or in Mira’s case, of the same face plastered onto different objects, animals, what have you.

I think it’s probably avant-garde.

And Tao, though the covers of his books may suggest otherwise, comes off in these bits as a very poised artist.

I’ll probably be focusing primarily on Mira’s half for two different reasons:

  • Because Lin has recently been the subject of some controversy which I have no strong feelings one way or the other toward…
    • (It’s a fire I’d wish to inform of, but not to stoke in the meantime.)
  • And because Mira’s half is really a lot more interesting both in structure and in content.

Tao tweets the same way he writes; if you want a redacted Lin novel, there’s no better place to find that than his Twitter.

This, however, is not to say his half should be ignored—I would simply have enjoyed to have seen more done with it.

(Of course I would be asking to restructure a true-to-form and candid assortment, going against much of what the collection is)

(Very neutral feelings regarding this half—it’s witty, it’s smart, but it’s not as ambitious as I would have liked it to be)

Mira’s tweets, however, usually run the gamut from hilarious to sad to a kind of amorphous gel made up of the two.

They’ll leave you not knowing what emotions you should be feeling. Should you laugh? Should you empathize?

There’s a kind of efficacy in this medium which breaks down the proto-narrative wall between speaker and participant.

My guesstimate is that this is probably because the audience has to some extent a knowledge of what twitter is/does…

That in the eyes of the participants it’s left synonymous with the most direct thoughts, the most quotidian ideas…

And what Wil Wheaton is having for his fucking breakfast.

And when coupled with Mira’s (and I guess Tao’s) looks into (t)he(i)r daily activities and exploits, the collection gets very real very fast

One very poignant example which returns often to me whilst writing this review is @mira_crying.

This account details just what its name suggests, and if anyone out there thinks that tweets can’t convey what regular writing can,

I dare them to read this and retain that thought, because even its opening disclaimer manages to sting just a little.

Really, I’d suggest upon reading this collection, the participant hold firm the idea that instead of just tweets, they’re reading…

Something more along the lines of a *very* redacted essay, as that’s more what these come off as:

The throwaway thoughts which, while they can’t be expanded, are no less important than the expandable ones.

(Some of them maybe a little.)

There’s a lot I could go into with this collection: how funny it is, how absurd it gets, its often white-knuckled grasp on dark humor…

But those are facets I decide to leave for the reader’s discretion, because while a bit on the experimental side…

This collection definitely deserves its fair share of readers.

Samuel Dymerski

Samuel J Dymerski is an aspiring author and artist who, while his work has yet to be seen anywhere aside from his personal blog, swears that he’ll be published in some form one day soon. No, really. It’s just a matter of time, now. He can be found anywhere if one simply looks hard enough, but seeing as how no one is actually willing to look hard enough, he is best found via his WordPress account, where his name can be found in large and impressive letters.