A voice like none other writing today—Pink is riveting.

THE ICE CREAM MAN & OTHER STORIES

Pink’s (The Garbage Times/White Ibis: Two Novellas, 2018, etc.) latest book continues his eyes-wide-open exploration of the many underbellies of modern life.

It's almost impossible to describe one of Pink’s books without relying on adjectives chronically overused to evoke a certain type of 21st-century voice-driven urban realism. His books are gritty, it’s true; also cynical, often vicious, funny in a wry, despairing sort of way. The characters that populate Pink’s world are junkies and drunks, homeless veterans and runaways, people laboring at brutally absurd jobs, people lost in the overwhelming trash of their lives. Yet the feeling one leaves a Pink novel with is less world-weariness or disgust than the recognition of a tremulous, wavering kind of belief in tenderness, beauty, and hope. Expressing itself in Pink’s signature single-sentence paragraphs, and replete with onomatopoetic belches, squelches, slurps, and titters, the voice that narrates this book is no exception to this rule. Pink splits the stories into three geographically defined sections and proceeds to follow his frequently unnamed narrators through the frozen alleys of Chicago to the blazing cul-de-sacs of Florida and back up north to the stark fields of Michigan. Along the way readers look through the eyes of a murderous dishwasher who hates you (every you) more even than the ramekins he washes; a novice ice cream man finding a species of the sublime in doing “maybe the first job [he] ever had where people were happy to see [him]”; a wedding caterer, awash in the beauty of the banal, who comes to an unlikely tête-à-tête with a magnificent, and dangerous, stag. There are young women who have stomped the guts out of rats, friendly meth addicts willing to guide the narrator to the best local tattoo shop, many beloved animal companions, and many beloved, if often unsalvageable, human friends. Pink, who is also a visual artist and a musician, continues exploring a world of the relentlessly profane with the kind of tender humanity usually reserved for stories more interested in the redemption of their characters. Pink is far too honest to fall into this trap. His characters don’t need redemption so much as they need a sandwich, or a blanket, or someone to talk with in order to pass the time, and herein lies the collection’s greatest, and most surprising, strength.

A voice like none other writing today—Pink is riveting.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59376-593-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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