In these linked novellas, a narrator navigates two differently unsavory circumstances: in one, a dirty job as a bouncer/cleaning staff at a Chicago dive bar, and in the other, family life with his girlfriend's bourgeois middle class relatives in Florida.
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