Author: Sam Pink
Type of Book: Fiction, alt lit
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because I thought it was going to suck a’plenty and was pleasantly proven wrong.
Availability: Published by Lazy Fascist Press in 2010, you can get a copy here:
(WHOOT! As of Tuesday evening, it appears as if the Kindle version of this book is free. Check it out!)
Comments: Back when I bought a copy of Shoplifting from American Apparel, I also bought a copy of Person by Sam Pink. Since my first exposure to alt lit resulted in what can only be called a complete nervous book-down, I was understandably reluctant to read Pink. Lin’s SfAA filled me with such disgust that had I read anything similar immediately afterward and then discussed it I would have needed a new anus.
But a few years have passed, and the fire of my hatred has dimmed. Also, Person is a slim volume and tempted me after I had finished The Goldfinch, which, as much as I love Donna Tartt, was a brick, and a very tiresome brick at around page 550. I needed something easy and something quick and there Person was, in my nightstand cupboard, nestled in with far longer and more outrageous fare. So I decided to just hold my nose and jump into Person and see what happened.
Person and SfAA are very similar books. Both feature disaffected, grubby young protagonists. Both books mine the same disenchanted hipster veins. The very structures of the books down to the sentence formations are similar. So how come I really like Person?
It’s difficult to explain, and because I recently got my winter clothes out (Jesus, I began this discussion back in mid-November – ugh!), I think I have a decent enough explanation. You know how it is that one red sweater can make you look like a porcelain-skinned angel and another red sweater can make you look like a chapped potato? They’re both red, just different reds. But you know, that analogy is a bad one because the red that makes me look like someone’s ruddy Irish nanna isn’t innately a shitty color and the one that makes me look like I’ve never once had a sunburn isn’t innately a heavenly color. By any sane standard, SfAA is a terrible book. I guess what I am saying here is that for the most part I hate most alt lit (and increasingly the writers behind the genre), but you can’t judge a book by its color just because some colors look better than others. And if it seems like I am being completely incoherent so that pompous tenured professors working in the Corn Belt can insult me because every extemporaneous book discussion needs to be indistinguishable from a doctoral thesis, that isn’t what’s happening. Nope. Not at all.
Still, I think I can make a case for why it is that Person is such a better book. Or at least a book worth reading.