The Garbage Times/White Ibis: Two Novellas

Sam Pink. Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (306p) ISBN 978-1-59376-681-8
Pink (Person) brings together two novellas about slackers in this uneven volume. “The Garbage Times” is the story of a miserable year-ish in the life of a man employed by a Chicago dive bar to throw out garbage, unclog the toilet, eliminate rats, and eject drunks. Besides his cat Rontel, life seems to offer the unnamed narrator few pleasures, though he manages to find some occasional zen among the refuse. “White Ibis” is a much more lively affair, the story of an unnamed broke artist-writer and his equally broke girlfriend. They relocate to Florida, where her family lives, and are by turns charmed and aggrieved by the local wildlife, including quite a few lizards, armadillos, and a white ibis, which takes on an almost totemic significance for the struggling narrator. 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. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2018
Release date: 05/01/2018
Genre: Fiction
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