Author Spotlight: Sam Pink

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead won’t say “hello.”

I do not like green eggs and ham..

I do not like green eggs and ham…

Chicago is one of those places that simply does things its own way. Sure, every city on Earth has its local flavor and color, but the Windy City has the power to make things happen. Its seminal force is strong and the town possesses a track record to prove it. Industrial, post-rock, post-jazz, house and acid house all have been spawned within her city limits.

There’s just something about this burg that bends rules and pushes envelopes, but not in a “more and faster,” vertical fashion. A concept might erupt in New York, L.A. or London but once it hits Chicago – well, anything goes. The artform in question will be indistinguishable from its maiden article.

Sam Pink is an author that casts all care to the wind (pun intended) and writes from what little is left of his heart. As one Amazon reviewer had claimed, his writing “makes you feel kind of icky.”

Mr. Pink’s work is of the “Bizarro” genre (whatever that means anymore) and, yes, it’s very bizarre, yet so goddamn real that you have to wonder what in the hell happened to the American society in the last twenty years. Pink’s books actually hurt to read, and because of that, his mission is accomplished. You now have the opportunity to feel something in a world that has neutralized you.

On the topic of Chicago, Sam paints the city as a character within itself. The “L,” actual named eateries and cornershops are all present here. The streets exist here as well, and if you live in Chicago, you can actually map out where his characters are walking.

Before, I’ve stated that Andersen Prunty may be the Graham Greene of the 21st Century, but Sam Pink is its Charles Bukowski. But you have to remember, Sam lives in a different time and economy than that of Chuck. As such, he will filter his experiences in accordance to those factors. The characters that populate his pages all suffer the same lives as the protagonist and everybody is a loser, but it’s a similar mentality nonetheless. There’s no conflict of “us vs. them.” All here share the same leaking boat. It’s not about drugs or booze or any lavish parade of self-destruction. It just is.

God, the dialog! It’s so painful to read it, but this is what people actually sound like! When I go to the checkout at my local Dominick’s, I equate the brainless chatter of the cashiers with my equally-mindless responses. Sam captures this moronic parlay to a “T.”

Plotwise, there really isn’t such in any of his books. Well, the formats aren’t rendered in some Dadaist cut-up a ’la Burroughs or Ballard, they’re quite digestible, but Pink treats you to a slice of life for the main character’s day and nothing more. The plots almost poke fun at the concept of character development, because true progress is not allowed in his world. The protagonist finishes these “tales” exactly where he begins – nowhere.

I’ve read plenty of blogs and articles about character development and how to render a character. Yes, Pink’s stories are character-driven, but the prime directives for these people rendered are to make contact with someone. In every attempt the “hero” tries to accomplish his task, it ends in a hermetic fantasy that no one will ever have the opportunity to enjoy but the reader. A schizoid ballet with only one dancer.

Bottom line: Sam Pink writes zombie novels, but novels that feature real zombies – you!

Look, I know some of you Manaballers may feel insulted by that last line (“How dare you! I’ve supped on dog meat in Kuala Lumpur! I speak fluent Albanian! I’m no zombie”), but others will relate spot-on with these notions once devouring a Pink novel. So, with that, I apologize. Well, not really… Fuck you.

But emotions are a central theme to the entirety of his catalog, and Pink captures them with such Zen grace. Fear, hate, anger and anticipation. All of these hopes for such experiences are crushed by the main character’s ego and, perhaps, medication? As stated above, everyone featured here is neutralized. Feelings are simply not allowed in his works by an invisible, unwritten law. Break it, and you could die. But maybe if I just try to…

Back when I was a state-sponsored therapist, I was instructed to teach my clients (captives) to cope. Not to deal with their issues, mind you, but to cope. Coping is a word that implies inactivity. To put up with it all. The prose of Sam Pink perfectly illustrates the lives of people who are putting up with it, whether they know it or not.


Below is a survey of Sam’s remarkable books that I have read:

The Self-Esteem Holocaust Comes Home – More of a detached foray into writing, every story is like a rejected screenplay, but one that you secretly wish was produced.

Rontel – Not going to spoil the surprise of who “Rontel” is. Just read it.

The No Hellos Diet – The main character is YOU. Time to “live.”

Person – Five stars. Amazing.

You Hear Ambulance Sounds and Think They Are for You – A Poetry/prose hybrid. But they aren’t for you. Promise.

Hurt Others – Just don’t. Well, maybe…

Check out Sam’s site right hereCrown Yourself Then Kill Yourself!


5 Responses to “Author Spotlight: Sam Pink”

  1. What a fantastic spotlight, Mark! I’ll be sure to check out Sam’s work in the very near future, that’s for certain!

  2. Does anybody here know how to get in contact with Sam? His blog’s mail client doesn’t work and I can’t find a Twitter or anything.

  3. What if… What if Sam isn’t real and I’ve been reading imaginary books the whole time?

  4. On the topic of cashiers, Dominick’s hosts a motley crew. There’s:

    1) Sugar Booger. Sugar Booger is this overly-nice lady who moans “hoom” before she begins speaking. I know she’s up to some crazy voodoo-shit. Definitely hiding something sinister.

    2) Cheese Please. Cheese Please is really jittery and talks like a mouse. He can’t multitask, so you have to make sure he doesn’t overcharge you, but he’s a pretty cool guy. I’d like to party with him. I bet his voice gets all deep when he’s been drinking. He probably turns into a douche bag. That’d be awesome.

    3) Stupid Stephenie. Stupid Stephenie is really nice, but she’s been working there for like, five years and still can’t get her shit together. She goes, “yewwww’ frequently in a disappointed voice then she fucks something up.

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