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: The Blood Berries by Erin Cole

I’m a fan of the Kate Waters mysteries by Erin Cole, and was intrigued to dip into Cole's newest work, The Blood Berries. The short novel does not disappoint. It’s the quiet ones that scare us the most and Cole’s style is oh-so-quiet and her prose oh-so-terrifingly clean. I highly recommend The Blood Berries.

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Book Review: Outline by Rachel Cusk

Outline by Rachel Cusk is about a woman—Faye—traveling to Athens during an oppressively hot summer for a weeklong stay to teach a writing seminar. She has left her husband and son behind in London. Simple enough, but it’s the  structure of the story that sets it apart; it’s told in ten conversations.

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Book Review: Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance by Mariana Gosnell

Some time ago, I became interested in how ice was harvested, transported and stored in the years before the advent of electricity. I couldn’t find much on the topic and so filed it away unresolved. Recently, I stumbled upon Ice: The Nature, the History, and the Uses of an Astonishing Substance, by Mariana Gosnell and wondered if it would answer my questions. It did, and so much more.  This is, hands down, one of the best nonfiction books I’ve read.

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Book Review: World Without Mind by Franklin Foer

Never write mad. Franklin Foer, author of World without Mind, does not like Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon. He’s not alone — many people, me included, are nervous about the pervasive influence of these tech giants. But he has a special gripe, losing his editor job at The New Republic courtesy of the digital revolution that reshaped consumer expectations toward “free” content, gradually, insidiously transforming journalism into clickbait writing designed to get views and feed the marketing beast. It’s not a bad book and Foer is a very talented writer tackling an important topic, but it never quite rises above his personal sense of outrage that he was so easily displaced by a society that doesn’t care about his expertise.

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Book Review: Two works by Arthur Machen

The Great God Pan is focused on an occult world existing in the shadows of this world, hidden and mysterious but also some how more real. 

The story opens with a young woman willingly participating in questionable medical experiment performed by a surgeon intent on helping humankind experience the mystical realm directly. He has, apparently, found the structure in the brain that prevents easy access to the spiritual realm (what he calls, “seeing the god Pan”), though curiously, he offers no insights as to why nature may have seen fit to prevent the veil from being lifted. 

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Book Review: Enemies of Promise by Cyril Connolly

“There is but one crime, to escape from our talent.” Cyril Connolly (1903 – 1974) was a British reviewer, critic and writer of distinction. Connolly’s Unquiet Grave — a despondent meditation on creativity, and existence, in a world challenged by the destruction of World War II — is one of my favorite books. I finally got around to ordering Enemies of Promise, first published in 1938 and designed to solve the problem of how to write an enduring book — by his count, one that stands for at least a decade.

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Book Review: So Much Blue by Percival Everett

So Much Blue by Percival Everett tells Kevin Pace’s story, an artist of some renown, living in a semi-rural area, with a wife and two children. Kevin’s story has three arcs: one in the present, one in Paris a decade or so ago, and one in Nicaragua, about thirty years in the past. 

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