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3.65  ·  Rating details ·  108 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
A panorama of human desire and enterprise, Bruce Murkoff’s first novel is exceptional for its ambition, its grasp of history and, above all, its stunning array of characters. 

Waterborne is set in the Great Depression, and culminates at the Boulder Dam: the greatest engineering project of its time, and a beacon of hope capable of altering the course of society. The nation,
Hardcover, 397 pages
Published February 10th 2004 by Knopf (first published 2004)
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Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
This is the good stuff. The deep stuff. No disaffected twenty- somethings, or vampires, or scandinavian girls who who do stuff with fire or bees' nests and have stuff painted on them (though, i must say, that girl has me prety intrigued). Nope, this is literary fiction. Weighty. Meaty. Big in scope, ambition, and--to the credit of Murkoff--execution. Another example, like Casey's Our Burden's Light of a debut that just shouldnt be this good. This should come after a couple of books written clums ...more
Ron Charles
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Bruce Murkoff's debut novel, Waterborne, braves all the challenges of its monumental subject: the Hoover Dam. What a feat of literary engineering to construct a story around 6-1/2 million tons of concrete! History is strewn with the remains of novels that have collapsed under less weight; characters and themes buried beneath a rubble of details that hardworking authors couldn't keep standing. Indeed, the dimensions of this challenge make Murkoff's success all the more remarkable.

Like the great d
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Waterborne is a terrific depression era tale that follows three lost souls whose lives intersect in Nevada at the construction site of the Hoover Dam. This is Murkoff's debut novel and it's a triumph. I was awed by the raw energy of his writing and his ability to totally transport the reader to another time and place. Waterborne has been called "one of the most under-read great novels of the past decade" I hope that will change.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite-fiction
I'm amazed that Murkoff has so few reviews on Amazon. I've never done reviews there but may just to recommend him. I didn't think Waterborne was as good as Red Rain but that one so well crafted that it'd be hard to beat. If you want a fast moving story, may not be for you, but if you enjoy character development, he's excellent. I wish he had another book out.
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama
The writing in this was beautiful, but at the halfway point, it felt like the story was beginning to drag. Murkoff's characters were interesting and I didn't have a problem with them. But I think the book could've benefitted from a bit more editing as far as "killing your darlings" goes. Still, it was a good read.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Picked this up randomly and thoroughly enjoyed it. Could have used a dash of a humor. The detail of every scene and landscape was rich, almost excruciatingly rich.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Excellent depiction of waters -lakes and rivers, dam building, Hoover dam, Great Depression, upper Midwest & western u.s., love of engineering. Only C. McCarthy does evil better. Lew Beck is one of the meanest, but love stories of others one-ups his sordid character. Sort of abrupt ending, but imagination fills in blanks, I suppose. Great debut novel.
Jonathan Briggs
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The river begins." And for the next three gorgeously written pages, Bruce Murkoff describes the Colorado River's inexorable, irresistible progress over centuries, cutting its great passage through deep canyons across the land. This is writing to be parsed word by word, slowly, to be savored. It kicks off a book that's full of awe for a force of nature that demands it and full of admiration for the audacity, genius and filthy, backbreaking labor required to tame such a force. The Hoover administ ...more
Dec 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This impressive debut for Murkoff combines wonderfully cadenced, vivid descriptions of the depression era West with moving characterizations that gradually emerge from the landscape into compelling life. The lives of three individuals flow towards each other — Filius Poe, a strong silent master builder whose life has crashed about his ears; Lena McCardell, a woman and her son fleeing an Okalahoma traveling salesman who turned out to have another wife, another family; and Lew Beck, a tough Jewish ...more
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Follows a bunch of different people in the 1930's whose lives intersect with the building of a large dam in Las Vegas. It was pretty well written but there was a lot of violence/dark sexual stuff that went along with the character development. I could see that he was trying to paint pictures of the characters but it felt like we were just wallowing in the characters weird life and I didn't want to hear about the gross stuff he did to people in order to know that he was messed up. There were some ...more
Deb W
Sep 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: left-unfinished
Mostly talented author with distinct weakness in transitions from one character's perspective to another. (I hate having to re-read sections because I was thinking I was reading about one character only to later discover it's another character.)

He also tends to fill pages with information that does little for the character's identity or plot advancement.
Waterborne by Bruce Murkoff has been compared to both Water for Elephants and Snow Falling on Cedars in both writing style and time frame. This is an engrossing and well-written piece of historical fiction, with characters that you will find yourself rooting for
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous writing and character development and some very interesting discriptions of the period (mid-depression) and construction of Boulder (now Hoover) Dam. The ending was a bit far fetched but not enough to take away from 5 stars. A book the discerning reader should enjoy.
Marty D
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Didn't catch me at the beginning.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book was ok. Lots of characters to keep track of (in the present and as they recall past events)until they come together over 1/2 way through the book. I didn't like the ending.
Catherine Lera
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed the book. It took you place and time before the hoover dam existed. I really liked the characters.
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Boulder Dam story. Good and evil characters merge at the construction site of the dam. Not as good as In Sunlight in a Beautiful Garden.
Jun 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable book, with very well developed characters, in which the author draws you into their lives, hopes, problems, and dreams. Ending is very good.
Just didn't grab me, even though I love working class fiction, and the era. Very unlikable protagonist. Which is sometimes okay, but didn't work for me here. Probably just a personal thing.
Carly Thompson
couldn't get into this. I didn't care for the author's prose style (sort of Steinbeck like without being interesting)
rated it liked it
Oct 15, 2010
Leigh Clayton
rated it it was amazing
Jul 11, 2018
Rodney Welch
rated it it was ok
Sep 21, 2009
rated it did not like it
May 16, 2017
Roger Wagner
rated it really liked it
Feb 25, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Jul 26, 2017
Linda Webster
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Mar 01, 2013
rated it liked it
Aug 10, 2010
rated it really liked it
Nov 19, 2016
Chris Stiger
rated it did not like it
Dec 17, 2015
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