Book review - 'The Ice Cream Man & Other Stories' by Sam Pink
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
I am a looooong-time Sam Pink fan and have been ever since first reading Person probably around six or seven years ago. I’ve enjoyed his other books since then, and although I haven’t gotten around to reading every single one of them, I plan on doing that. I find he has this really, really straight-to-the-heart-of-it, lowbrow, conversational voice that really caters to readers because his writing is not just about him showing off some big vocabulary or some ‘amazing’ super-fake plot, it’s almost like a friend is telling you a story that may or may not have really happened (and you get the feeling it mostly did). He’s also funny and clever and really notices the small absurdities in life and zooms in on them to make them the central themes of his stories.
He doesn’t write in long paragraphs either, but usually breaks after every line. I’d almost call it a minimalist style. He is experimental with form in general, sometimes writing in almost purely vignettes or character sketches…and, for some reason, refusing to use the double quotation marks. Damn, I should’ve asked him why when I interviewed him.
A lot of Pink’s work focuses on the experience of being a member of the working class, but when it comes to The Ice Cream Man and Other Stories, that is clearly the central theme of the collection. There’s a story about a sandwich maker, a dishwasher, a waiter, a machine operator, and, of course, an ice cream man, most or all of which are some “embellished reality” (in Pink’s own words) incarnation of Pink. If Pink wasn’t so underrated this would be the universal working class classic.
Pink’s tone is comedic and casual, but more often than not, his subject matter really isn’t so lighthearted. He tends to write mostly about situations with some underlying darkness. But he doesn’t point out the darkness directly. He writes in an experiential way so that the darkness just sort of speaks for itself. And in the darkness, he always finds the light; in the boring, he always finds the interesting.
Pink is by far one of my favorite writers ever and one of my biggest influences. On top of that, he is a really nice guy who let me interview him for a blog that did not yet exist. He’s like, the best dude ever, and this book is amazing. I wasn’t bored for one single second. Looking forward to the next one.