The Waterworks is E.L. Doctorow’s latest meditation on history, memory, genius, and the City of New York. And also on municipal corruption, big-city newspapers (and toadying big-city newspaper tycoons), science, technology, the homeless, and the evils of private health care run amok.
In many respects, it is the most conventionally plotted of Doctorow’s New York books—a combination science fiction allegory and detective novel straight out of Edgar Allan Poe. After the boy’s-eye views of World’s Fair and Billy Bathgate, Doctorow is back to a more accessible story, told by an adult narrator. Yet Doctorow also takes some large risks in The Waterworks, by dealing for the first time with a New York long before his own or his parents’, and by experimenting once again with the techniques of historical fable....
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