The author of Witch Piss (Eraserhead Press, 2014), White Ibis (Soft Skull Press, 2018) and a staggering number of other creations published through many venues, the Man himself, Sam Pink, is a literary rockstar. Do a quick google, add a ton of this Michigan-based maniac to your shopping cart, and wait for the gifts to arrive at your door. This review was initially intended for I am Going to Clone Myself and Eat the Clone (Paper Hero Press, 2009) but after reading Rontel (Lazy Fascist Press, 2013) and YOUR GLASS HEAD AGAINST THE BRICK PARADE OF NOW WHATS (House of Vlad, 2016) I knew there was no choice: I had to touch on all three. So here we go, a romp through some of indie-lit’s most promising work.
The intimacy of Pink’s writing lies in the everyday. It is in his description of sizzling a cat’s ears that you find yourself immersed wholly into the world he witnesses and describes—a hot world full of crushed bones where dreams are imaginary. The beauty of Rontel is that it takes all the insignificant moments of life and wraps them in a layer equally as dissociating as it is humorous. Our maliciousness becomes pragmatic in a goofy sense, playing on the compulsive nature of humankind. The common meandering of a misfit as he explores his city becomes a grand adventure in the intricacies of moments spent inside this character’s head, with a first-person perspective adding great effect to the experience. Ultimately, my favorite part of the book is divided between scenes spent with the main character’s brother and girlfriend. These interactions are very wholesome, very real. Each voice is distinct and the obscure inside jokes formed between these characters made me feel like I was hanging out with the gang too; perhaps eating some blueberry pie or building a robot shell from a duffel bag for Rontel (the cat) who is incredibly adorable; I am thankful for his photograph. Thanks, Sam. Rontel is totally Hot Styles.
Much like Rontel, the collection of poetry and prose hybrids found in I am Going to Clone Myself and Eat the Clone felt incredibly intimate. There is a thematic clash between violent malevolence and deep-rooted sentimentality, a tenderness, that creates an engaging dichotomy reflective of what it’s like to have blood and think and breathe. Pink actively rips faces off characters and displays them as a naked conglomeration of habits, desires, and neurosis. As a writer, I cannot praise the format of this collection enough. Particularly, I found the short plays to be some of the most inventive writing I have ever seen. Sure, screenplays and scripts are nothing new but incorporating them into Pink’s style really allowed the content to flourish. I am now incredibly invigorated, due specifically to this book, to seek formats not often used in indie literature. The entire collection feels like Sam Pink was creating whatever he felt like creating, a wild toss into the wind meant only to please the creator. Despite the brevity of many of the pieces, there was always a punch. Several punches sometimes, right to the gut, that forced me to continue reading.
YOUR GLASS HEAD AGAINST THE BRICK PARADE OF NOW WHATS is a series of vaguely interrelated poems that often call back to previous lines. This book displays Pink’s simultaneously aggressive and soft style in a concentrated way given its format; several segments of predominantly one or two lines divided throughout the piece with some give and take here and there. There is such strong imagery and semblance of self that the entire piece of work puts you into a headspace identical to that of the speaker. It’s easy to find yourself stuck between the words as Pink reveals some of our darkest desires and fears. The amazing thing about this collection is that every line is so meticulously crafted that it can stand alone. Even if several lines are related, you can chop them up and read one and within that single line there is a grand sentiment that you can relate to.
Overall, Pink is an inventive force in the literary sphere. As a creator myself, I was stagnant and, quite honestly, felt bored before coming across these pieces of literature (big thanks to Brian Ellis and Zac Smith for the recommendations). I now feel energized about writing again, like I can go and make something real. If anything, these books are creative fuel for the bystander. Hell, I even wrote a screenplay for the first time in six years because of these books. Sam Pink is simply a must read, and to solidify this point I will leave you with a section of YOUR GLASS HEAD AGAINST THE BRICK PARADE OF NOW WHATS that I have been thinking of non-stop as of late:
“Life like two broken hands trying to pick flowers for someone you really like.
Which means forget about it.
A dead fly on the seat next to you on the train.
Smiling at the dead fly and thinking, I’m in love.
Trying to pick the dead fly up to kiss it but all your fingers are broken.”
Cavin Bryce Gonzalez is a twenty-one year old student of English attending the University of Central Florida. He spends his time off sitting on the back porch, sipping sweet tea and watching his hound dog dig holes across a dilapidated yard. His work has been published in Hobart, CHEAP POP, OCCULUM, and elsewhere. He tweets at @cavinbgonzalez.