Pumpjack Book Reviews

When not writing, we are usually reading. And sharing our perspective on those books. Check out our About page to find out how to suggest a book for review consideration or to provide one of your own. #bookreview

Book Review: Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa

Death Is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa is a both an astonishingly simple and deeply complex story set in the devastated, war-wracked contemporary landscape of Syria. The novel demonstrates the truism that reality—in this case, the Syrian war—can often be best understood through the lens of fiction. 

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Book Review: I Am God by Giacomo Sartori

I Am God by Giacomo Sartori (translated by Frederika Randall) is my new favorite work of contemporary fiction. It’s a short, amazing piece that imagines god—master of the infinite cosmos—falls obsessively, creepily in love with a quirky human woman and not just any woman. She’s a geneticist who pays the bills by inseminating cattle.

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Book Review: Drawn and Quartered by E.M. Cioran

Emil Cioran, a Romanian essayist and philosopher, is a master of the savage aphorism and undisputed king of the nihilists. Drawn and Quartered is a collection of very short essays and aphorism published in 1979 that aims both barrels of his unique pessimism at society, culture and the lies we tell ourselves to avoid confronting the truth — that outside of despair, life is meaningless and we are doomed to die and degrade into nothingness.

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Book Review: Seven Types of Ambiguity by William Empson

William Empson was a noted British literary critic and poet. (Interestingly, he was apparently drummed out of Magdalene College, Cambridge, for the shocking crime of having condoms in his room. That’s their loss.) He went on to distinguish himself for writing and for exceptional and insightful literary criticism. His most influential work was his first, Seven Types of Ambiguity, written at the tender age of 22! It’s a classic for a reason; he sets for himself the monumental task of understanding how poetry “works” — why, when done well, it moves us and sticks with us even though it was written in eras long past?

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Book Review: Gaspara Stampa: Selected Poems

I picked up this collection because I wanted to (finally) understand the famous line in Rilke’s first elegy:
“Have you imagined Gaspara Stampa intensely enough so that any girl deserted by her beloved might be inspired by that fierce example of soaring, objectless love and might say to herself, "Perhaps I can be like her?"

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