For fans of Shirley Jackson and Alice Munro, a Gothic collection of stories featuring carnivorous beavers, art-eaters, and family intrigue.
The small southern Ontario town known as The Pump lies at the crossroads of this world’s violence—a tainted water supply, an apathetic municipal government, the Gothic decay of rural domesticity—and another’s.
In Brooman's interconnected stories, no one is immune to The Pump’s sacrificial games. Lighthouse dwellers, Boy Scouts, queer church camp leaders, love-sick and sick-sick writers, nine-year-old hunters, art-eaters—each must navigate the swamp of their own morality while living on land that is always slowly (and sometimes very quickly) killing them.
Sydney Warner Brooman (they/them) was raised in Grimsby, Ontario. They attended Western University in London, Ontario, and currently live in Toronto. The Pump is their debut short fiction collection. Their story “The Bottom” was shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s 2020 Open Season Awards, and they have recent work in American Chordata, Thorn Literary Magazine, and other literary journals.
“This is the Southern Ontario that we don't openly acknowledge but that scrapes at the back of our memories. The Pump shows us the surreal violence of living in the 401's sprawl and the staggering beauty of the nature that surrounds it. Don't be fooled by the nightmarish quality of these stories: they are as real as the Mercury Villager that Sydney Warner Brooman drives us in on. This is horror in broad daylight. These are the living ghosts that haunt so many of us who grew up here. ”—Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, Lambda Award-winning author of Small Beauty
“The Pump is populated with the kind of tough, awkward, dark, and tender characters you often find trapped in small town, no-place Canada. You’ll also find beavers, salt domes, a lighthouse, marshes, more beavers, a Mercury Villager, mosquitoes, and the rest of the beavers. Brooman has woven an inescapable, ferocious dream of a book. Good luck getting out. ”—John Elizabeth Stintzi, author of Vanishing Monuments
“Bristling with magic, horror, and romance, Sydney Warner Brooman’s The Pump transforms small-town Southern Ontario into a place of violence and sacrifice — or maybe presents it as it truly is. Like nothing I’ve ever read before, these killer beavers, strange diseases, and infectious waters wouldn't leave my head and drew me back to their world again and again. If only I blurbed delightfully weird books like this for the rest of my life, I'd be happy. ”—Jess Taylor, Author of Pauls and Just Pervs
“This is what small-town Ontario looks like when David Attenborough is a distant memory, when social structures are as polluted as the water, when myth has returned—big time—in mounting waves, sweeping our smaller stories out to sea. I don’t what is more terrifying: that The Pump exists, or that here, in this wretched, sinking place, you can find something that you desperately love, something that you want to survive. The Pump is an astonishing debut collection from a writer who is just warming up. ”—Tom Cull, author of Bad Animals