Sheila Heti: So you have the biography of Kafka on the floor of your bathroom.
Tao Lin: I usually have that Kafka biography in my bathroom. My bathroom is right by my entrance.
SH: Why do you keep it in the bathroom?
TL: It’s a book I can open at random and feel interested in immediately, I feel. It’s really funny, I feel.
SH: Do you find yourself staying in the bathroom longer than you otherwise would because you like what you’re reading in that book?
TL: No, actually. With this book, since I’m opening it at random and immediately interested, I don’t feel the need to read more than I want to read, in that there’s not, like, a plot that leads me along. So I can stop whenever.
SH: What is the best thing you remember reading in that book?
TL: I don’t know, but I collected some quotes from it into a blog post. Here’s one of them: ‘One Saturday evening [Kafka’s sister] came home from the shop to find [Kafka] sitting on the sofa, staring blankly in front of him. Aware he had been eating very little, she asked whether he was going to have supper, but he did not answer, and they just stared at each other.’
SH: I like that.
TL: Yeah. I feel like it has never disappointed me.
SH: What made you take it in there?
TL: I remember reading it in previous apartments’ bathrooms also. Probably at some point when I was trying to find something to read in the bathroom, not wanting to be disappointed, I chose that, and have continued to choose it.
SH: What do you like about the experience of reading in the bathroom?
TL: I don’t prefer reading in the bathroom really. It’s just if I’m going to be sitting there. My bathroom is really dirty right now, I try to stay away from it. What’s the longest you’ve ever spent in a bathroom, reading, that you can remember?
SH: I don’t know. I can’t imagine more than an hour. You get up and you can hardly stand, your legs have completely lost their circulation. I wonder, would you ever read Kafka in the bathroom?
TL: Yes. I will read anything in the bathroom. I am open to reading anything in the bathroom.