The Garbage Times is an homage to the randomness of life, the inevitability of shit, scum, and death, and the beauty that glimmers amid the filth ... In counterbalance to the crassness and moments of violence that punctuate The Garbage Times, Pink’s narrator shows a deep, humanizing love and respect for women and animals ... the beauty of Pink’s work — he shows the simple devastations of containment, of beings...living without dignity but still striving toward hope, over and over again, as we all do, wanting things to come out all right. This is the heart of his message, the essence of his book: we will never stop trying to keep moving no matter how confined we are ... In this quest for life and dignity is an equally powerful desire to succumb to death. Its inevitability curls underneath each page, hides in each scene. Morbid readers will really dig this book ... His stories are unique and true and impossible to put down — what more could anyone want?
These juxtaposed novellas are about how any benumbed existence, any circumstantial grind, can backfire and produce a mind, despite the will of our petty culture, despite the domestication every act of love unwittingly employs. As the protagonist is transported between states cold and hot ... Notice...the panoply morphing from: ironic, anachronistic idiom to the grammar of the modern sentegraph, underlined by the autocorrecting despondency of some inverse self-help mantras made popular online ... These books conjoin readers with a hilarity freed forthright from the widespread gutter of any discouraging affiliations.
The Garbage Times and White Ibis, a new pair of related novellas by Sam Pink, crackle with humanistic intimacy ... not much fiction chronicles the sheer weirdness of working-class life and labor today. Pink elevates these mundane concerns to sacred proportions ... Pink’s fiction is gritty and funny and deeply interior ... He has a natural eye for the way things fit together in our world: how objects belong with certain people, how thoughts arrive uninvited in certain social settings. His work is touching, even when it’s a bit neurotic ... At times, Pink’s relentless interiority is altogether oppressive to read. The same qualities that make his work supremely relatable can also spiral inward toward madness ... It’s the pathos of the ordinary taken to an impossible extreme. That’s both the gift and the trouble of Pink’s writing
In short, the book [The Garbage Times] feels like another weirdly entertaining pit stop on the Sam Pink highway to nowhere, which makes the opening of White Ibis all the more jarring ... In earlier Pink books, the narrator has always felt more like a mouthpiece for his ideology than a fully fleshed protagonist, a faceless everyman whose sharp-tongued misanthropy is powerful enough to be relatable without any kind of relevant backstory. But relatability is not the same as intimacy. White Ibis offers character building on an unprecedented scale for Pink ... The first word that comes to mind is one that is rarely, if ever, employed when discussing Sam Pink: harmony. The same feeling permeates the final pages of White Ibis, showcasing a battle-toughened, confident writer at the top of his game, no longer shackled to the same cyclical narrative, and with no inclination as to where he’s headed next. It’s a sense of intriguing uncertainty that one imagines is as refreshing for Pink as it is for the reader.
This latest addition to Pink's catalog is as great, if not better, than his previous work. That is what makes this the perfect time to celebrate what this writer has accomplished: a tone that is his own, a voice that is as recognizable as Apple's logo, and a career based on sad weirdness and ultra-personal moments turned into fiction that is too real not to be read as nonfiction ... The Garbage Times/White Ibis will hold you. You should let it. You can go read some formulaic crap and feel clean and untouched by the beautiful words of this individual, but why would you? The best way to celebrate Sam Pink is by letting him hold you. Do it.
Garbage Times basically picks up where his last book left off ... It’s a very good, solid novella ... But The Garbage Times are followed, almost giddily, by the up-and-away of White Ibis. And in this book, Pink has done something so new, so different, that I’m struck by what a stroke of genius it was to put the Chicago book right up against it for contrast. Up against his cramped vision of Chicago, the Florida book is so expansive, so wild and lovely, so full of normal-ish people and exotic animals and the oddest thing of all in a Sam Pink book—a fleeting inner calm that almost borders on happiness ... There’s not that much to celebrate in the human world, and yet that’s precisely why White Ibis is so powerful and so full of hope. It’s small relationships, animals, the odd details – those are the things that have always saved Pink’s narrators from total ruin in his previous works.
The Garbage Times/White Ibis is not only Pink’s latest; it might just be Pink’s best so far ... The result of these two narratives is a book that reads like a single tale of two very different cities and the people who make each unique as well as the couple, and the cat, that brings them together in a single storyline ... Pink opens up as much as he has done in the past, but he seems more worried about things' narrative arc and exploring briefly the meaning behind everyday things. He has always been a strange hybrid, part philosopher and part comedian with a thing for mental health, but he is now also emerging as an outstanding chronicler of not only himself as those around him but also of the connective tissue between all things and behaviors. If none of that appeals to you, this is still a recommended read simply because it’s a lot of fun to read ... More than author, Pink is a one-person movement with a distinctive style, and this book adds yet another outstanding entry to a catalog that is already a must for anyone trying to get a real sense of what contemporary literature is all about.
Between awful jobs, country club soirées, reptile shows, and an unlikely turn entertaining a troop of Girl Scouts, the narrator and his girlfriend learn to thrive in 'the theme park state.' Pink certainly gets Florida right, and his prose is wonderfully offbeat, but neither novella feels complete.