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Book summary and reviews of The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Water Museum

Stories

by Luis Alberto Urrea

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  • Published:
  • Apr 2015
    272 pages
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About this book

Book Summary

From one of America's preeminent literary voices comes a new story collection that proves once again why the writing of Luis Alberto Urrea has been called "wickedly good" (Kansas City Star), "cinematic and charged" (Cleveland Plain Dealer), and "studded with delights" (Chicago Tribune). Examining the borders between one nation and another, between one person and another, Urrea reveals his mastery of the short form. This collection includes the Edgar-award winning "Amapola" and his now-classic "Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses," which had the honor of being chosen for NPR's "Selected Shorts" not once but twice. Suffused with wanderlust, compassion, and no small amount of rock and roll, The Water Museum is a collection that confirms Luis Alberto Urrea as an American master.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Urrea's command of language is matched only by his empathy for his characters." - Kirkus

"...Urrea succeeds in writing unforgettable characters who face desperate, life-changing scenarios." - Booklist

"These stories are vibrant, tender, and invoke a strong sense of place." - Publishers Weekly

This information about The Water Museum was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cathryn Conroy

Imaginative and Exceptional Collection of 13 Short Stories: Smart, Perceptive, and Thought-Provoking
Written by the incomparable Luis Alberto Urrea, this collection of 13 short stories alternates from heartbreaking to hilarious. Almost all of them are about identity and community—those who are safely on the inside and those who are left outside.

Many conclude open-ended, which leaves the reader hanging…and thinking. What happens next? Well, that's for the reader to fill in. It felt frustrating at first, but it also meant I couldn't stop thinking about these stories and their deeper meanings.

In a word: brilliant!

Some of my favorites:
• "Mountains Without Number" is the story of a middle-aged woman barely making a living in a diner she owns and operates by herself in a small, economically depressed town in the desert Southwest. She keeps staring out the window at the nearby butte which is covered in brightly-painted numbers: high school graduation years. The ending is so powerful that I had to stop reading for a few minutes.

• "The Water Museum," the title story of the collection, takes place in a drought-stricken United States where children don't know what it's like to have enough water—so much so that one little town has a museum about water. A middle school field trip there ends in a heartbreaking way.

• "Amapola" is a sweet and sexy teenage love story—until suddenly with an undercurrent of brutal violence, it's the scariest thing I have read in a while. (It won the Edgar Award!)

• "Taped to the Sky" tells the story of a teacher from Cambridge, Massachusetts whose wife has left him. He stole her car and is driving around the country trying to forget her—from Lafayette, Louisiana to Vidor, Texas to El Paso and up the Raton Pass to Colorado and finally to Wyoming where his car dies. What happens then is the heart of this story.

• "Young Man Blues" is the story of Joey, a young man who works on Mondays caring for a wealthy and very sweet 92-year-old man. Joey's dad was in a gang, and is now in prison, but some of his gang member buddies are now threatening Joey. They want to rob the old guy, and Joey is their ticket. Will he be an accomplice?

This is an imaginative and exceptional collection of short stories that are smart, perceptive, and thought-provoking.

Diane S.

The Water Museum
What a wonderful use of language to express emotions and setting this author has. Sympathetic characters all, trying but failing to push back against cultural boundaries. Loved the first story, Mountains without numbers. There is something so melancholy and realistic about this one. Scenes like this are probably happening in dying towns all over America, people stuck in their lives remembering when their lives seemed much fuller.

Loved to Mr Mendoza, with his use of humor and magical realism, once again what is, is no more.

The sous chefs, I adored, so cliched and amusing. Done so well.
Water Museum, an apocalyptic of a world running out of water. Almost seems not to fit, but it does because once again something that is gone is mourned. What is not remembered proves frightening.

Such a wonderful collection.

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Author Information

Luis Alberto Urrea Author Biography

photo: Joe Mazza Brave-Lux

Hailed by NPR as a "literary badass" and a "master storyteller with a rock and roll heart," Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph.

A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and a Guggenheim fellow, Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 19 books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays. Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, though he says, "I am more interested in bridges, not borders."

Urrea's book, Good Night, Irene, takes as inspiration his mother's own Red Cross service. With its affecting and uplifting portrait of friendship and valor in harrowing circumstances,...

... Full Biography
Author Interview
Link to Luis Alberto Urrea's Website

Name Pronunciation
Luis Alberto Urrea: oo-Ray-ah

Other books by Luis Alberto Urrea at BookBrowse
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