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: Replay by Ken Grimwood

Replay by Ken Grimwood was gifted to me some years back and on a trip to the Sawtooth wilderness, I finally got around to reading it. The book has a great set up — the main protagonist, Jeff, is having a midlife crisis and filled with ennui and regret, dies in mid-conversation with his wife. He wakes up in his 18-year-old body in 1963, his head full of memories of his old life, and realizes he has a chance to start over again.

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Book Review: The Desert World by Pierre Jean Jouve

The dust jacket The Desert World by Pierre Jean Jouve suggests it’s a "potent exploration of the destructive power of sexuality and he interrelationships between love and death." Perhaps. I found it to be a dark, lyrical exploration of two deeply flawed characters and one who was slightly less flawed.

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Book Review: Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods by E. Fuller Torrey

Evolving Brains, Emerging Gods by E. Fuller Torrey is a fun, thoughtful and illuminating read built on a convincing thesis. However, I’m predisposed to be easily convinced about a biological explanation for religion fueled by cognitive evolution. That may be too big of leap for some but, if this book has it right, perhaps evolution will surprise future generations with some new brain adaptions that make the concept more palatable, or useful to our continued survival.

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Book Review: Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

I am wildly interested in novelists who courageously play with structure, who see the potential in moving beyond the mythical hero’s journey tale, who jettison the constraining traditional three-act form, who use dialogue inventively, who believe storytelling has the potential to be reinvented to reflect the realities of life all on its own, and not just as a prelude to a three-act screenplay. Thus, I was excited to see the critical praise along these lines when Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday was released, anticipating a rewarding reading experience. 

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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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Book Review: A Square Meal by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe

A Square Meal by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe looks at an especially interesting moment in American culinary history — the Great Depression. At a time when capitalism failed the country so spectacularly — when unemployment was high, poverty deep and hope on the run, we still had to eat. And it was not easy for many. Businesses were closing or contracting so laborers were out of jobs and agricultural prices were low so farmers were broke, and there was no relief in sight for either group.

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Book Review: Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict by Ara Norenzayan

Big Gods: How Religion Transformed Cooperation and Conflict by Ara Norenzayan is likely to offend anyone who has fairly deeply held religious beliefs because it suggests religions, all religions, can be reduced to adaptive evolutionary behaviors unconsciously amplified by the arguably most effective socially cooperative animal on the planet. This is a great book that I highly recommend, although it is somewhat disheartening.

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Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han King

On the surface, The Vegetarian by Han Kang, is a portrait of insanity. Yet, the author gently coaxes us toward another question: Is Yeong-hye insane or, rather, is she experiencing a mystical connection to a collective or universal force that others cannot see?

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