Read The Waterworks by E.L. Doctorow Online


“An elegant page-turner of nineteenth-century detective fiction.”–The Washington Post Book WorldOne rainy morning in 1871 in lower Manhattan, Martin Pemberton a freelance writer, sees in a passing stagecoach several elderly men, one of whom he recognizes as his supposedly dead and buried father. While trying to unravel the mystery, Pemberton disappears, sending McIlvaine,“An elegant page-turner of nineteenth-century detective fiction.”–The Washington Post Book WorldOne rainy morning in 1871 in lower Manhattan, Martin Pemberton a freelance writer, sees in a passing stagecoach several elderly men, one of whom he recognizes as his supposedly dead and buried father. While trying to unravel the mystery, Pemberton disappears, sending McIlvaine, his employer, the editor of an evening paper, in pursuit of the truth behind his freelancer’s fate. Layer by layer, McIlvaine reveals a modern metropolis surging with primordial urges and sins, where the Tweed Ring operates the city for its own profit and a conspicuously self-satisfied nouveau-riche ignores the poverty and squalor that surrounds them. In E. L. Doctorow’s skilled hands, The Waterworks becomes, in the words of The New York Times, “a dark moral tale . . . an eloquently troubling evocation of our past.”...

Title : The Waterworks
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812978193
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Waterworks Reviews

  • William1
    2018-10-03 06:54

    A moody, elegant thriller, beautifully paced. A retired New York City newspaper editor writing after the turn of the century recounts the tale of what happened when his talented freelance writer, Martin Pemberton, went missing in the 1871. This was before the city had grown much above present-day 72nd Street. Martin believes, and others agree, that he may be losing his mind. He has twice recently seen his father, dead these last two years, being driven through town in a sepulchrally white omnibus. Martin is editor/narrator McIlvaine's best writer and when he disappears McIlvaine goes looking for him. New York is not depicted at its best. It is in fact a horribly corrupt and violent town. (For background see Luc Sante's Low Life and Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York.) U.S. Congressman and later NY State senator Boss Tweed runs a patronage mill called "the Ring" and virtually every municipal office is up for sale. Except for the Christian charities there are no organized social services to speak of. Child labor is rife. Streetwalkers fight over turf. Con men are a public nuisance not reigned in by the unscrupulous police department. The Lower East Side is known for its flourishing opium dens. Everyone, in short, is on the take. In the midst of this mayhem the city evinces a vibrant commercial sector, which is hardly squeaky clean itself. Martin's late father, Augustus, was perhaps its major figure. After Martin vanishes we learn that after Augustus died his vast fortune disappeared too. Hmm. And not only that, but the old man's widow is now living in penury with her son, dependent on the kindness of relatives. That's the tease. I won't reveal more. Needless to say, this is a beach or inflight read of a very high order, and perfect source material for Martin Scorsese.

  • Pat
    2018-09-25 01:29

    This would've been a great novel... absorbing and thoughtful and a surprising sci-fi twist... if Doctorow had been able to control his use of ellipses (elippsises?). You couldn't read three sentences... without running into at least one triad of dots... and they were... thrown... in seemingly at... random. Not only that, but every character seemed... equally to be afflicted with ... ellipsosis. What seemed at first to be an... interesting and effective means of... emphasis... quickly became profoundly distracting. So... for three dots... I give three... stars. Had there been fewer of the former, I'd've given... more... of the latter.

  • Richard Derus
    2018-09-18 06:42

    Book Circle Reads 21Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Description: “An elegant page-turner of nineteenth-century detective fiction.”–The Washington Post Book WorldOne rainy morning in 1871 in lower Manhattan, Martin Pemberton, a freelance writer, sees in a passing stagecoach several elderly men, one of whom he recognizes as his supposedly dead and buried father. While trying to unravel the mystery, Pemberton disappears, sending McIlvaine, his employer, the editor of an evening paper, in pursuit of the truth behind his freelancer’s fate. Layer by layer, McIlvaine reveals a modern metropolis surging with primordial urges and sins, where the Tweed Ring operates the city for its own profit and a conspicuously self-satisfied nouveau-riche ignores the poverty and squalor that surrounds them. In E. L. Doctorow’s skilled hands, The Waterworks becomes, in the words of The New York Times, “a dark moral tale . . . an eloquently troubling evocation of our past.”My Review: Mel-O-Drama!! The novel is set in 1871, and like any good sudser pits one lone man against a system of evildoers and manipulators. Adding to the pleasures are steampunky elements like technology out of its time, a villainous doctor aiming to create immortal men, and double-super-secret hidden bases that are in plain sight.When I read this for my book circle, I was taken with the plot and somewhat flat on the wiritng. Doctorow makes wonderful sentences at his best, specifically thinking of Ragtime here, but this book fell short of the mark for me then. A quick flip-through to blow fifteen years of cobwebs off my memories didn’t so much refute my earlier contention as show me how very spoiled I was by the olden-days craft of editing. If I read a novel this well-made today, I’d yodel from the housetops and dance mazurkas of rapture down the middle of the parkway.People who have read my reviews for a while might recall how UP I was over The Night Circus, and how much I loved it. So in that context, I say this: Had The Night Circus been edited as well as this far, far less extraordinary book (published in 1994) was, I think I would simply have melted into the fabric of the cosmos from sheer bliss.Skills are being lost. It is NOT a good thing. I grow sadder with every mediocre book I read that someone somewhere with the talent and ability to edit even the ~meh~ into BETTER ~meh~ isn’t getting the chance, the training, the mentoring, to do so.

  • Pamela
    2018-10-02 05:59

    I managed to finish this ... book, but just ... barely. Will I read another by this author ... I don't think so. Did I enjoy this ... book? No ... I did not ... enjoy ... this book. Why?The freaking ellipsis* (ellipses?)! The author's overuse of ... after ... after ... changed what could have been a fairly mediocre attempt at writing a 19th century mystery into something resembling sheer hell for this reader. These blasted dots made it impossible to tell (or care) if the character's voices were different, made it impossible to become involved , and most importantly of all, made it impossible for me to EVER so much as consider reading anything else by this pompous, overbearing, windbag.Besides the ellipsis problem, there were other aspects of this book that rankled. 1. The plot--what little there was of it. Sure, most 19th century mysteries aren't considered all that mysterious nowadays, but they were in their time. In their time, they were fresh, new, and exciting, and many such as those by Anna Katharine Green can still knock the breath out of you. This plot was stale, old, and boring even when judged against 19th century mysteries. When you consider that it's a 21st century attempt to mimic a 19th century work, it crosses the line from trivial to pathetic.2. The characters. Doctorow's characters bring new meaning to the phrasetwo-dimensional characters. This group of cliches had to be the most poorly written characters I have ever come across. They would be forgettable if it weren't that they were so bad. On top of this, even without the freaking ellipsis (ellipsises?) they all sounded alike. I don't mean their speech was similar, I mean they all sounded EXACTLY alike. You can pick two passages of dialog at random, and unless the dialog relates to something specific to the character, there is absolutely no way you can tell who is speaking. (Trust me, I tried this.) When you add back in the freaking ellipsis, the sameness of the characters becomes almost comic.3. Pacing. The pacing is beyond slow, it's tedious. By the time the author stretched out what little plot there was to make a novel, you wind up having to wade through pages and pages of padding to find a bit of plot. (And then what plot you do find, isn't worth the trouble.)4. Writing style. If the author has a writing style, it's buried very deep under all the ellipsis. Buried so deep that I, for one, have neither the time nor the inclination to bother digging it out.In short, the plot is crap, the characters are crap, the pacing is crap, and the writing is crap. If you like crap, you'll love this. If not, then don't bother unless you can find the version of the book that all the big-time critics seem to have read and rave about. (This other version must exist since there is no way they could have been reviewing the load of crap I waded through.)*So you won't think I'm exaggerating about the ellipsis, here's an example copied straight from the book:His eyes were sharp and clear black behind the incongruous pincenez [sic] affixed to the bridge of his nose ... but his head was shaved, he was beardless ... and in this freezing catacomb his legs were bare ... so that I was put in mind of some ... garden creature ... something hairless ... and all eyes.

  • dianne
    2018-09-23 04:31

    Evocative post Civil War New York with lotsa juicy images is the setting for this slightly hallucinogenic tale of familial treachery and greed. The story is told by an aged journalist who is only peripherally related to the main characters. The hypocrisy of religion, the limited morality of “science”, and the constant reminder that everything has a price, especially in “The Ring’s” NYC.Life under Boss Tweed; dramatic poverty and hoards of neglected children “street rats”, scurrying around the powerful, rising, extraordinarily wealthy class not seen (in the new world before - or since, till now) is the palpable setting.“A conspicuously self-satisfied class of new wealth and weak intellect was all a-glitter in a setting of mass misery.”But even their wealth couldn’t prevent the frustration inherent in the wee, brief, transient, oh-so mortal, nature of our lives. There’s gotta be a way to buy a fix for that...right?

  • Kurt
    2018-09-20 07:57

    Once upon a time I thought Doctorow was a real contender, a heavyweight storyteller if not of canonical stature, then at least on par with other true professionals like Fowles or Dexter. Hell, I guess he is, actually, but it was Ragtime and Billy Bathgate that put that thought in mind, and Waterworks, while reinforcing the fact that Doctorow's a craftsman, does little to advance his reputation, in my opinion. It's a good, if dull, story and a nice little exercise in the ellipsis as pace-setter, but in the end it's just dull, boring. blah. Read Ragtime though, and Billy Bathgate, if you like Ragtime.

  • Kevin
    2018-09-21 02:32

    Underrated and under-read! By all means, listen to the (abridged, unfortunately) audiobook version by the great actor Sam Waterston. History, mystery, ethics, musings about eternity, the meaning of life, and New York trivia to boot. What more could you want?

  • Chana
    2018-10-02 01:41

    Slow-moving and boring. It didn't quite fit the crime genre nor the mystery genre. It certainly was not a thriller. It was more of a philosophical meandering asking questions about the advance of medicine and science versus religion, the advance of the machine age versus the pastoral, the acceptance and resignation of age versus the fire and idealism of youth. It has a few bright moments as a story and I would hold hope for a some pages that the writer would continue to be bright and clear, but then he goes back to written mumbling about philosophical ideas and one very much feels the stifling, soporific underwater world that plays a large part in this story.

  • Sera
    2018-10-09 04:44

    It is not a story of a lost writer, it is the story of a city. New York is actually the main character of the book. Doctorow depicts the city in a very elaborate and gloomy way and he takes us to a journey of New York in old times. We can breathe that air with the author's meticulous style. However, he doesn't capture the reader so easily. The mysterious story of the lost writer Martin Pemberton could have been told more thrillingly in my opinion but Pemberton doesn't give what we expect as readers. After some point, I lost my attention towards the story. The book expects high concentration from the reader and it turns into the story of a weird doctor which was a bit disappointing to me. I don't mean to say that a story should have a surprising and stunning ending but it shouldn't be like this either.

  • Notcathy J
    2018-10-17 08:49

    "Someone should tell him that ellipses do not replace dashes, commas or semicolons, even if you are one of America's preeminent men of letters."

  • Jan
    2018-10-10 08:56

    A wonderful philosophical novel and detective story with a strong moral sense and a beautiful portrait of New York City in the Boss Tweed era. And God, the man can write!

  • Ahmad Abolfathi
    2018-10-01 02:49

    «و بگذار شما را با این توهم رها کنم... هر چند در حقیقت ما به‌زودی در بالای برادوی مشغول رانندگی خواهیم بود در سال جدید سرور ما، در 1872.» (آب کردن؛ پاراگراف آخر)پیش از آن‌که راوی آخرین کلمات رمان را به زبان بیاورد؛ پاراگرافی پیش‌تر؛ او نیویورکی را در نظر می‌آورد که منجمد شده است. جوری که انگار تمام شهر تا ابد «تخته‌بند و یخ بسته و پر تلالو و مبهوت خداوند» می‌ماند. این یکی از آخرین نمودهای «دغدغه‌ی جاودانگی» در رمان «آب کردن» است. «آب کردن» را سردبیر روزنامه‌ای قرن نوزدهمی روایت می‌کند و مخاطبی که او برای روایتش در نظر دارد مایی هستیم که در قرونِ بعد زندگی می‌کنیم. راوی اگر چه که یک قرن نوزدهمی تمام و کمال است، اما در لحظاتی بصیرتی فرا قرنی از خود بروز می‌دهد. بصیرتی گاه حیرت‌انگیز: «ممکن است فکر کنی تو همین الان و همین‌جا داری در یک عصر مدرن زندگی می‌کنی؛ اما این توهّم همه‌ی عصر و زمان‌هاست. ما طوری رفتار نکردیم که گویی مقدمه‌ی عصر شما بودیم. هیچ چیز عجیب و پر حس و حالی دوروبر ما وجود نداشت. به شما اطمینان می‌دهم، نیویورک پس از جنگ، جامعه‌ای خلاق‌تر، موثرتر و نابغه‌تر از آن بود که امروز هست...» (آب کردن، 16) در جایی از رمان، راوی به مقایسه میان سر و شکل روزنامه‌های «آن روزگار» با آنچه که «امروز» از روزنامه می‌شناسیم می‌پردازد:«در آن روزگار ما گزارش‌هایمان را راسته به صورت ردیف، کنار هم می‌گذاشتیم، عنوان‌های اصلی، زیرعنوان‌ها و گزارش. اگر شما یک گزارش داشتید آن را ته ستون یک می‌گذاشتید و از ستون بعدی هر چه نیاز داشتید برمی‌داشتید. روزنامه عمودی بود. هیچ عنوانی در عرض روزنامه تیتر نمی‌شد، ستون دو برابر هم نداشتیم...» (آب کردن، 134)او ویژگی‌های یک روزنامه‌ی امروزی را چگونه می‌شناسد؟ مگر زندگیِ امروز را تجربه کرده که می‌تواند بین نبوغ امروز و نبوغ آن روزگار قضاوت کند؟ پرسش‌هایی از این گونه هنگامی که در انتهای رمان تب و تابِ ناشی از گم‌شدنِ شخصیتِ محوریِ روایت؛ مارتین پمبرتون –یا به قول راوی: روزنامه‌نگار مستقل من- با دغدغه‌ی جاودانه‌گی گره می‌خورد، می‌توانند ایده‌ای را در ذهن ما متجلی کند: آیا راوی‌ای چنین آینده‌آگاه می‌تواند زندگی را در قرن نوزدهم بدرود گفته باشد؟جیمز جویس اصطلاحِ اپیفنی را برای تبیین فرایندی به کار برد که در آن رویداد یا فکری پیش‌پاافتاده به وسیله‌ی نویسنده به چیزی تبدیل می‌شود که زیبایی «جاودان» دارد (لاج، هنر داستان‌نویسی، 252) دکتروف در مصاحبه‌ای (با سعید کمالی دهقان) درباره‌ی تکنیک اپیفنی در آثار جویس چنین می‌گوید: « جویس گفته بود که قصد دارد به داستان‌هایش یک‌کم حالت وحی و تجلی بدهد، طوری که وقتی خواننده داستان را تمام کرد همه چیز برایش واضح هست اما چون موضوع اصلی درباره‌ش حرف زده نشده و توضیحی داده نشده، در نهایت آن موضوع به شکل قوی‌تری به خواننده منتقل می‌شود. و البته به همراه یک سری صحنه‌های دراماتیزه شده.»آیا موضوعی که دکتروف در رمان آب کردن درباره‌ی آن «حرف می‌زند» همان موضوع اصلیِ مورد نظر اوست؟ در ادامه پاسخ منفی‌ام به این سوال را تبیین خواهم کرد. مارتین پمبرتون در خیابان برادوی دلیجانی سفید دیده است که سرنشینانش پیرمردانی سیاه‌پوش بوده‌اند و روی گردن یکی از آنها همان غدّه‌ای وجود داشته که مشخصه‌ی پدرش؛ که سال‌هاست مرده؛ بوده است. مارتین پمبرتون روح دیده؟ نه... راوی در همان فصل‌های ابتدایی رمان، با قاطعیتی ماتریالیستی؛ از گونه‌ی قاطعیت راویِ رگتایم در هنگام توصیف شخصیت و زندگیِ هری هودینیِ شعبده‌باز؛ این گزینه را رد می‌کند. روایت در غیاب مارتین پمبرتون آغاز می‌شود و حول محورِ جست‌وجو برای یافتن او پیش می‌رود، اما یافتن او –که در یک سوم پایانیِ رمان میسّر می‌شود- هیچ کدام از خطوط اصلیِ روایت را نمی‌‎بندد، چرا که از میانه‌ی راه جست‌وجو برای یافتن مارتین جای خود را به جست‌وجو برای یافتن دکتر سارتوریوس، که از نگاه راوی و همراهِ پلیسش شاه‌کلید ماجرای مرگ‌های دروغینی از نوع مرگِ پدر مارتین است می‌دهد. بسیار کنایی است که شخصیت اصلی رمان، که روایت بر مبنای فقدان او شکل گرفته است، بسیار اتفاقی و در عملیاتی که با هدف یافتن سارتوریوس انجام شده، یافته می‌شود. به پرسش این نوشته بازگردیم: داستان اصلیِ «آب کردن» چیست؟ جست‌وجو برای یافتن مارتین؟ یا شاید هم کشف رازِ مرده‌گانی که نمرده‌اند؟ سارتوریوس در قرن نوزدهم میلادی از بیمارانش نوار مغزی تهیه می‌کند و حتا در حال آزمایش پیوند اعضاست. او به رازِ عمرِ جاودانه پی برده است و یا حداقل پیرمردانِ ثروت‌مندِ نیویورکی چنین می‌پندارند. آن‌ها ثروت خود را در اختیار سارتوریوس قرار داده‌اند، خود را به مرگ زده‌اند و در آزمایش‌گاه سارتوریوس زندگیِ رخوت‌آلودِ جاودانه‌شان را تجربه می‌کنند. قصه‌ی قشنگی است. این‌طور نیست؟ این قصه‌ از نیمه‌ی دومِ رمانِ آب کردن، اندک اندک جای‌گزینِ قصّه‌ی گم شدنِ مارتین پمبرتون می‌شود و آن را به حاشیه می‌برد. اما نه... آن چیز که جای‌گزین می‌شود جست‌وجوی ماست برای کشف رازِ مرده‌گانی که نمرده‌اند. همه‌ی این قصه کم‌تر از یک دهم از این رمانِ حدود سی‌صد صفحه‌ای را به خود اختصاص داده است. آیا می‎شود آن را قصّه‌ی اصلی رمان دانست؟ نه.علاوه بر این خطوط روایی، «آب کردن» خطِ رواییِ دیگری دارد که در کمال تزویر خود را پشتِ داستان‌های ماجراجویانه‌ی هیجان‌انگیز پنهان می‌کند. آب کردن داستانِ سردبیری کهنه‌کار است که در پی یافتن سوژه‌ای برای نوشتنِ یک گزارشِ دوران ساز از اتاق خود در تحریریه به خیابان پا می‌گذارد و در نهایت هنگامی که این سوژه را به سرانجام می‌رساند، آن را در قالب گزارش نمی‌نویسد. آن را در قالبی می‌نویسد که احتمال جاودانه‌گیِ روایت را بیشتر کند. در رمانِ آب کردن علاوه بر پیرمردانِ مشکی پوش و دکتر سارتوریوس شخصِ دیگری هم هست که دغدغه‌ی جاودانه‌گی دارد. او کسی است که در جای جای رمان از خودش بصیرت‌های فرا قرن نوزدهمی، بروز داده است. این داستان علاوه بر آنکه در نهایت با تمِ تقلا برای جاودانه شدن گره می‌خورد، از همان ابتدا تقلایی است برای جاودانه شدن، از سوی روزنامه‌نگاری که به مقوله‌ی جاودانه‌گی بسیار می‌اندیشد. بین آینده‌آگاهیِ راوی و آزمایش‌های دکتر سارتوریوس برای جاودانه‌گی چه ارتباطی برقرار است؟ آیا می‌توان چنین فرض کرد که در رمانی گره خورده با تمِ جاودانه‌گی، نویسنده بدون هیچ غرضی، مشخصه‌های یک شخصیت را به نوعی ترسیم می‌کند که ما درباره‌ی طبیعی یا غیرطبیعی بودنِ عمرِ او دچار تردید شویم؟ و آیا می‌توان گفت دکتروف تحت تاثیر جویس و برای آنکه به داستانش «یک کم حالت وحی و الهام بدهد» تا آن را به چیزی تبدیل کند که به قول جویس «زیبائیِ جاودان دارد» علتِ آینده‌آگاهیِ راوی را سربسته باقی می‌گذارد؟ آیا نویسنده‌ای هست که درگیر دغدغه‌ی جاودانه‌گی نباشد؟ای. ال. دکتروف، آب کردن را پس از رمان‌ جاودانه‌اش «رگتایم» نوشته است. در آستانه‌ی قرنی جدید. در سالِ جدیدِ سرور ما، در 1995. آیا دغدغه‌ی رودرویی با قرنِ آینده در شکل گرفتنِ چنین رمانی تاثیر داشته است؟ کسی جوانمردی کند و این سوال را از او بپرسد!

  • Jess M
    2018-10-14 02:36

    A good book but I found it difficult to get in to. It was a hard slog through the first 100 pages. The incessant and unnecessary use of ellipses was pretty annoying, and after a while, I was able to ignore them enough to keep going. The story, however, was compelling and I enjoyed the twists and turns of the mystery and the various characters who played a role in unraveling it. Overall, an enjoyable read, but certainly not a must-read.

  • Sarah
    2018-10-01 03:38

    A moody tale, oddly larded with ellipses, maybe prompted by the same creative, NYC-dwelling impulse that caused LCD Soundsystem to write the song “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down.”As always, Doctorow grounds his writing in historical details, and it was interesting to be in a time when the dust from the Civil War/end of slavery hadn’t quite settled. But the book felt more like an imitation of the 19th century than the thing itself: a little cruder, a little flatter.

  • Simon Mcleish
    2018-10-03 04:34

    Originally published on my blog here in February 2001.The industrialisation of the northeastern United States is one of the most important processes in the development of the modern country, but lacking the romance of the Wild West and the South it is not so frequently a subject for fiction. Doctorow's novel, which is set in New York in the early 1870s, is an exception, and it is a gothic tale strongly influenced by writers of the period.The narrator is a newspaper editor, who is in a good position to understand New York in this period of rapid change, as the city expands at an incredible rate after the North's victory in the Civil War while remaining under the corrupt government of the Ring led by Bill Tweed. A symbol of the changing city, which is the source of the title, is the vast reservoir behind high walls in the north of the city, providing water to supply industry and the expanding population.The gothic side of the novel is a Frankenstein inspired plot, which begins when one of the freelance contributors to the newspaper sees his dead father in a carriage on Broadway. The father had been a rich man, his fortune founded on the slave trade and wartime profiteering, and his son had been disinherited following an argument about morality. But when Augustus Pemberton had died, the fortune had disappeared, leaving the widow and another son virtually destitute.The Waterworks is more than a historical novel. Indeed, it is very unlikely that the events described in the novel could have taken place. It is in part a homage to the Gothic, and is also intended to show something about today's America. This is basically that the single-minded pursuit of wealth does not produce happiness - something which may seem obvious, but often seems to be ignored in practice.

  • Kate
    2018-10-01 01:33

    On a cobbled street at the lower east tip of Manhattan is a gift shop filled with absurdly priced items -- $3,800 coffee tables. $400 earrings. $2,000 leather satchels. Hell! It's New York, so who am I to try to understand prices? But on the second floor of this gift shop is something I understand perfectly: books. This bookshop is devoted to the idea that celebrities are people too; this bookshop sells only the 10 favorite books of certain celebrities. I took a spin around the store reflecting on celebrity culture and wrinkling my nose at Tom Ford's literary love of Ayn Rand. And then I found the shelf dedicated to the favorite books of Ta-Nehisi Coates. And on that shelf I found The Waterworks. And in The Waterworks, I found the most mesmerizing and upsetting examination of American values I have read in a long time. Wealth and power, the inconvenient poverty of city life, the media circus that ultimately gives rise to the truth. I think I understand Coates better after reading this book. I'm not precisely sure where to start. Set in NYC in the years following the Civil War, this novel is about young Martin Pemberton's quest to find his old scoundrel of a father. The novel is told from the perspective of Martin's newspaper boss, many years later. Martin's father was pure evil in life -- he defrauded the US Government, traded slaves by bribing port inspectors, drained all capital from his estate, and faked his own death. But his father's destiny in faked death is stranger (and somehow more appropriate?) than I ever dreamed. Child abduction. Municipal fraud. Grave robbing. Civil War service loyalty. The evil doctor. I loved it. The author E.L. Doctorow died recently, and reading this book was a humbling in memoriam.

  • Nathan Fehr
    2018-10-02 07:58

    Book Report onWATERWORKS by E.L. Doctorow07/16/09DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE EVENTS OF THE STORY IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE HAPPENED? No. The narrator, McIlvane, is retelling the story years after it has occurred and makes many jumps forward and back as he goes along. It nicely reinforces the idea that he's been thinking a lot about the events of the novel himself, and that he's worked hard to understand things and put them in sequence when in some ways that isn't really possible. It's also kind of endearing. Makes the storyteller seem more human. He'll start down a path and then say "I know we haven't met this guy yet but it's important you know about him already" or "You should really know about the way things were before we continue."DO YOU THINK THE TITLE IS APPROPRIATE FOR THE STORY? Absolutely, but you don't really figure out why until fairly late in the story. Water is actually very present throughout the story in different forms (rivers, reservors, what have you) and in many places the narrator uses it to make important metaphorical connections. Also, on reflection, a lot of very important events in the book seem to happen near water of some kind.WHAT IS THE STORY REALLY ABOUT? That's a tough one - there are a lot of themes in the book. I'd say in large part it's about what people do when confronted by something 'wrong' in the world - be it through acts of evil people, or injustices done, or whatever. Everyone in the story has been confronted by a choice and must either get involved and fight to change what they cannot stand, or stand aside and just try to live a day-to-day existence in the midst of what they know is not right.

  • Ronald
    2018-10-07 06:44

    A goodreads friend recenltly reviewed a novel by E.L. Doctorow, and that caused me to remember that I read another novel by E.L. Doctorow, _The Waterworks._The novel was first published in 1994. I read it in the late 90s.The novel falls in two genres I'm interested in: Gothic and SF horror. Specifically, the story takes place in New York in 1871. E.L. Doctorow is excellent at creating a picture of the time. The corrupt politics of Tammany Hall. Maimed veterans of the American Civil War out on the street begging for alms.The narrator is a journalist who caught a glimpse of his father--which is a surprise, for the narrator thought that his father was dead. The narrator investigates this mystery and discovers that his father, along with some other wealthy men, are not dead. These men are being kept alive by Dr. Sartorius. Sartorius, a brilliant and innovative Army surgeon during the Civil War, had invented treatments that were then unknown to medicine: blood transfusions, dialysis, bone marrow transplants and others. His dark secret is that young children must be sacrificed for their blood and somatic cells. These treatments are done in a secret locale.Two shortcomings of the novel. Doctorow overuses ellipses....This was a distraction for me, the reader....A second problem is that I felt the novel was somewhat padded....Though my memory might be at fault here...But I felt at the time that this story should have been told at novella length....If the novel didn't go overboard on the ellipses, and were written at novella length, I would have given this 5 stars.This book, of course, was published before the epublishing revolution. It is no accident that in this new era of publishing, the novella as an art form is experiencing a resurgence.

  • Beth
    2018-09-18 01:55

    Although this was a pretty good book, it was probably my least favorite of all the EL Doctorow books which I have read. I can't go into much detail about the story without essentially giving away the whole book. This is because they kind of keep you in the dark about what is going on at the Waterworks until the last couple chapters. I am sure that at the time this book first came out it was a shocking concept, but there was a movie made a few years ago that must have either been based off of this book or had the same general concept. I won't say what movie it was but I will tell you if you ask me. But it will give away the mystery as to what is going on at The Waterworks.

  • David
    2018-10-13 08:34

    This was handed to me by a neighbor so I thought, "what the heck, Doctorow is supposed to be a good author" and read the thing. When I mentioned this to my sister she said that Doctorow's books struck her pulp-fiction instead of literary which is what she expected given the author's reputation. I would have to say that this book is more like pulp-fiction that is trying to be literary - not the best of either world. I am sure not inclined to read any more of this author's works based on this "mystery" novel.

  • Jerry Delaney
    2018-09-25 09:52

    I seem to be all over the place with Doctorow. Some of his books I have loved while others - like this one - I really regret picking up. It read to me like a pastiche of popular (not literary) novels of the time in which it was set. Well done as an exercise for the writer but not enjoyable for the reader.

  • Teresa
    2018-09-18 09:51

    It felt like a slow book at first, but I soon found myself turning pages quickly to discover the solution to the mystery. With a backdrop of 1840s New York, as only Doctorow can do backdrops, even a lame story would read-well. But this was no lame story. Yes, it's been done before - and done much better since (by Ishiguro) - but I liked it for what it was. A darn good read.

  • Linda Rowland
    2018-10-01 03:45

    It was as though it was written during the actual time. Not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it made the reading less enjoyable for me. I found myself skimming when I should have been focusing on each word. Simply not the way I want to read, but I did find I wanted to know what was going on so I kept at it.

  • Lara
    2018-09-19 05:48

    very grim, but insightful, even profound. I loved the narrator with his masterfully rendered voice of a 19th-century new yorker and his whole persona evolving around this seemingly disembodied voice. and of course New York itself - beautiful and nuanced stylisation into which history weavened not as facts or numbers but as living pulse of the city life, so that one can feel its beat even today.

  • Akiva
    2018-09-24 02:29

    Definitely one of Doctorow's lesser efforts. There are bits of good writing and the mystery kept me going, but the book definitely fell flat. Another book where the narrator is largely a nonentity as interesting things happen around him. I kind of feel like the entire book was an extended exercise in foreshadowing and that most of it was just an extended metaphor about stasis and change.

  • Joel
    2018-10-08 02:57

    This was an extremely dull book. If you want to get into Doctorow, I'd suggest starting with Sweet Land Stories, which was great, or Ragtime (haven't read it but I know it's his most famous). Skip this. He uses ellipses between almost every sentence. It gets aggravating very quickly. The whole book was bland.

  • Asta
    2018-10-04 01:57

    As a longtime ellipsis overuser, the punctuation of this novel didn't bother me and I was able to easily travel the streets of Boss Tweed's New York. It's not as strong as Ragtime or Billy Bathgate in terms of plot or character development, but it was entertaining.

  • Seth Mann
    2018-10-10 01:40

    Provides a lens to NYC during the Tweed era - most interesting for me were the descriptions of the changing landscape of the island from pastoral to city. however, story seemed flat, contrived and a bit over-the-top for my liking.

  • Elvis Is King
    2018-09-23 07:37

    Hopefully Doctorow will never again write a book as bad as this one. If you read only one E.L. Doctorow make sure it is not this. I would suggest Welcome to Hard Times.

  • Diane
    2018-09-19 07:57

    Never read any of his stuff - heard him interviewed on NPR and thought I'd try one out. Historical fiction is a favorite...I could not get thru the first 5 chapters.