Reader Reviews

American Dead

“Wow, blown away by this beautifully written, elegiac, lyrical, work of art. Poetic metaphor redeems the squalor, the meticulously rendered observation is objective yet pulsating with life, real and unadorned, yet each character is invested with heroic qualities. The rendering is vivid, immediate, each metaphor a joy of originality and imagination. We live in the trailer park with the protagonists, the ‘object lesson’, right next to the roaring vacuum of the ravening and devouring gorge, while the trees, the forest, the wilderness which haunts the book, crowds in on all sides.

As the book proceeds the trailer park grows clearer and clearer in our minds, the stench, the claustrophobia, the hopelessness, the terminality, but above all the humanity, viewed through the lens of the compassion which imbues every line.

Kimberley, Alice, Jeffrey, Nathan, Michael, the list goes on, each realised as a fully fledged personality, we love them every one, even Robert!

Go, read, devour! You won’t regret it.”

-Neil M Campbell, posted to Smashwords


“Reading this remarkable book I kept thinking about Baudelaire’s perfect balance in Les fleurs du mal – his evocation of a world so fundamentally lost and broken – it seems redeemable only – but wholly – by the craftsmanship (and compassion) of the storytelling. I also found myself racing through this narrative to find out who-done-it – but finally having the sense to snoop around in the final pages – just so I could slow down and take it all in: the novel’s quick strokes of brilliant description, its small perfect details, its rich syntactic texture, the poetry of its stunning comparisons, the freshness and starkness of its symbolism, and the provocative questions it asks about our time and place. As I said when I started writing this – a remarkable book.”

-Anonymous, posted to Barnes and Noble


Beautiful Machine

“Beautiful Machine opens with sly generalities, playing on our assumptions. The headmistress accompanies an unnamed girl to a train station and surrenders her to military personnel. She boards the train with people who look like her. Before the train leaves the station, a young man tries to escape but the soldiers shoot him. The girl doesn’t know where the train is going, or for what purpose, but she knows she is a prisoner. The soldiers have a name for her, and for her fellow prisoners, and although Cooper doesn’t offer the name, we can imagine it for ourselves. We think “Jew” or worse. We think this is a Holocaust narrative. The soldiers are Nazis. The prisoners on the train are headed to the ovens.

But as the story proceeds, Cooper drops hints that challenge our assumptions. The soldiers have names like like Brighten, Harris, and Burton. The prisoners have names like Nazmiya, Raheel and Waa’il, and although we never learn the girl’s real name, some of the prisoners call her Ahlem. Nazmiya wears a shawl. The soldiers have white skin and the prisoners have brown skin. We discover that we are reading an alternative history in the spirit of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. It isn’t Nazis who are the oppressors here, but Americans. And in this history, the victims are a different people altogether.

Like all good dystopian literature, the horror of Beautiful Machine does not lie in imagined atrocities of a different time and place, but rather, in the fact that the world it presents is eerily familiar. Using clean and understated prose, PW Cooper casts an unflinching gaze upon the world we have made for ourselves and draws it imaginatively to a logical conclusion—a final solution.”

-David Allen Barker, posted to Smashwords


The Cannibal’s Prayer

“With The Cannibal’s Prayer, PW Cooper pulls off a breathtaking, accomplished, experimental, audacious, high wire act. This is nothing less than a study in the theory of the novel, of the role of aesthetics in the creative process, by a mature writer, passionately in love with words in a disciplined way. In love with love, but non-sentimentally, with clear eyed humanity and compassion.

Emotionally literate, intensely literary, this paean to writing, holds one in thrall throughout, this reviewer wept at the end at the sheer beauty evoked by the words, a rare experience nowadays. Probably the one phrase that sums up the book is Beauty of Language. At all times PW Cooper respects the reader.

Discipline is the spine of the book, discipline and the extraordinary emotional vocabulary which makes it throb like a live thing – it is live, it lives, palpable in one’s hands and continues to live in one’s imagination.

Beautifully written as one has come to expect from this writer, PW Cooper makes experimental forays in two directions – passages of stream of consciousness so craftily rendered they flow clearly without punctuation of any kind, even more so as the book progresses, and the rendering of dialogue into verse, Christopher Fry style. This latter experiment I wasn’t so sure about, at least in Kindle format, might work better in print. But that’s a detail, both experiments are technically accomplished in the execution.

Please read this book – it will remind you of what writing is about and that the novel, when executed as superbly as this one, is an art form second to none.”

-Neil M Campbell, posted to Smashwords


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