The Pump

The Pump - stories by Sydnye Warner Brooman

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, church camp leaders, love-sick and real-sick writers, nine-year-old hunters, art-eaters — each must navigate the swamp of their own morality and the prospect of living on land that is always slowly (and sometimes very quickly) killing them.

Sydney Warner Brooman (they) was born in Toronto, Ontario, and raised across the lake in Grimsby. They currently live in London, Ontario, where they’ve served as Student Writer-in-Residence at Western University and Emerging Artist-in-Residence at the TAP Centre For Creativity. Their story “The Bottom” was shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s 2020 Open Season Awards, and they have recent work forthcoming in American Chordata and Thorn Literary Magazine.

Spring 2021 · Short fiction · Trade paperback · Editor: Annick MacAskill

Sydney Warner Brooman, portrait by Jeremy Bruneel

Praise for The Pump

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

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 and Junebat

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 Broomen 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.

—Jiaqing Wilson-Yang, Lambda Award-winning author of Small Beauty

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