The Waterworks

The Waterworks

by E. L. Doctorow

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

“An elegant page-turner of nineteenth-century detective fiction.”
–The Washington Post Book World

One 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.”

“Startling and spellbinding . . . The waters that lave the narrative all run to the great confluence, where the deepest issues of life and death are borne along on the swift, sure vessel of [Doctorow’s] poetic imagination.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Hypnotic . . . a dazzling romp, an extraordinary read, given strength and grace by the telling, by the poetic voice and controlled cynical lyricism of its streetwise and world-weary narrator.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer

“A gem of a novel, intimate as chamber music . . . a thriller guaranteed to leave readers with residual chills and shudders.”
Boston Sunday Herald

“Enthralling . . . a story of debauchery and redemption that is spellbinding from first page to last.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“An immense, extraordinary achievement.”
–San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812978193
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/08/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 451,234
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

E. L. Doctorow’s works of fiction include Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, World’s Fair, Billy Bathgate, The Waterworks, City of God, The March, Homer & Langley, and Andrew’s Brain. Among his honors are the National Book Award, three National Book Critics Circle awards, two PEN/Faulkner awards, and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, honoring a writer’s lifetime achievement in fiction, and in 2012 he won the PEN/ Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, given to an author whose “scale of achievement over a sustained career places him in the highest rank of American literature.” In 2013 the American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded him the Gold Medal for Fiction. In 2014 he was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

Hometown:

Sag Harbor, New York, and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 6, 1931

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Education:

A.B., Kenyon College, 1952; postgraduate study, Columbia University, 1952-53

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Copyright © 2007 E.L. Doctorow.
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The Waterworks 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
arouse77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this book suffered from me having previously read Caleb Carr's excellent novel "The Alienist". These two books hearken back to roughly the same time and place, and even share a plot structure of a newspapermen's recollection of a mystery long since solved, but Carr's story is so much more finely crafted, engaging, and dramatic that The Waterworks fares pretty poorly in comparison. the disappearance of a freelance writer occasions little notice apart from his editor who embarks on the trail to discover his fate. this leads him through a strange warren of crackpot medicine, social darwinsim, and the quest for eternal youth.the mystery lacks a certain momentum and urgency. i felt myself skimming pages and still feeling totally capable of grasping exactly what was happening later on. no great surprises in store at the end, and the resolution seemed to linger longer than it needed to. for all of that Doctorow seems to be a capable enough storyteller with a decent command of language.
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