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The Water Museum

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  547 Ratings  ·  99 Reviews
NAMED NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR by Washington Post, BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Kirkus Reviews, NPR, Men's Journal

A new short story collection from Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway.


From one of America's preeminent literary voices comes a new story collection that proves once again why the writing of Luis Alberto Urre
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 7th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
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Diane S ☔
Dec 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
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, onc
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Jana
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, booktopia
For whatever reason, when I started this book of short stories I was not 100% focused. I could tell the writing was excellent, but the stories just weren't grabbing me. It was the audible version, this happens to me sometimes. However, along came the eponymous story, and I realized that this was brilliant in every way. Very timely and moving. The final story: Bid Farewell to her Many Horses, may have made me cry.

So...I started reading them again in reverse order back to the beginning. They are s
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David Schaafsma
"So this was New Year's Day. This was sunlight. Seventy-eight degrees. This was the sound of the barrio awakening from the party: doves mourning the passing of night, pigeons in the dead palm trees chuckling amid rattling fronds, the mockingbird doing car alarm and church bell iterations in Big Angel's olive trees in front of the house. Junior pulled the pillow over his head — it was those kids with their Big Wheels making all that noise."--Urrea

I am proud to say Luis Urrea is a friend and colle
...more
Kasey
May 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book and want to go back and take my time going through it again, letting each story linger with its beauty and its insight. There is a common thread tying these pieces together - how we care for, or don't care for, each other, including the way in which we use this planet and how that may look down the road. As someone who lives in a drought state, "The Water Museum" has been hard to shake.

These stories are beautiful not because of flowery language or happy endings, though Urrea
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Tuck
urrea should be the mega million seller of books he's written,not some dead hackish lady, or some uk twat and her owls and stuff.
it was a delight to revisit (some of these stories were in his first book Six Kinds of Sky: A Collection of Short Fiction ) mr. mendoza and his biting paint brush graffito in our rural and dying mexican town, and the professor and the indian somewhere in southeast wyoming shooting the dear wife's already dead volvo.
plus too there are stories taken from previous publis
...more
Donna
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Short stories aren't my favorite books to read. I'm working on a reading list, where reading a collection of short stories is required. I chose this one because I've read this author before and liked his style. I really enjoyed the first two stories in this book. I was thrilled that I was actually liking it, ... that is when it started unraveling for me. I didn't enjoy the rest of them as much. But I loved the writing. I like how he addresses cultural differences and how life is as an illegal in ...more
Jeff Scott
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Luis Alberto Urrea's new book, The Water Museum, is extraordinarily well timed. As California undergoes the "mega-drought" it is a fitting reference to dry places where water is hard won. Urrea shares the story of those that live in these water-scarce lands. Perhaps a few years ago, these concepts may seem foreign to many readers, but now many more can make the connection here.

Some of these short stories are continuations of themes found in Urrea's previous work Into the Beautiful North, but mo
...more
Mark
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
What a terrific collection and Urrea does an excellent job narrating. Looking forward to meeting him, at Booktopia Petoskey.
Natalie Serber
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm sitting in the catbird seat. Late to the party, having never read anything by Luis Alberto Urrea before, I now have a trove of his novels, stories, poetry and nonfiction to look forward to!

It wasn't love at first sight. His stark story, "Mountains Without Number," the first in his new collection, "The Water Museum," didn't seduce me. It's the story of a dying town near Idaho Falls, all the young people have wisely moved away and the remaining aged residents meet up at the diner each morning
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Judy King
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Can I have special dispensation to give this book seven stars instead of just five?

I finished the Water Museum last night. I had bought it some time ago ( I think I pre-ordered) from Audible. I LOVE his work, but I especially love it when he is reading it, and yet because I am not a fan of short stories, AT ALL, I'd not started it, until I saw that the book had put Urrea and this book into the short list, the top five for the PEN/Faulkner. Then I binge read (listened) to the 13 stories and love
...more
Linda
This book of short stories "grew" on me as I became more familiar with author's style. I did wish that I knew more about Spanish and the Mexican culture. I think I would have gotten even more out of it if I had. Different stories had me crying or laughing out loud. Always a good sign.
Kalen
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this slowly so it wouldn't end but eventually it did.
Guy
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Urrea's writing is wickedly good." That's a blurb from the jacket of one of his books. For some reason it has stayed with me. This is one of my favorite writers. I think the first work of his that I read was The Hummingbird's Daughter. I loved it. It's a fictionalized account of the life of Urrea's actual great-aunt Teresita. He researched historical records and family accounts for years before he had it all down in print. It is story telling at its best.

Urrea is not only a novelist. He writes
...more
Mark Folse
Jul 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Urrea is the Mark Twain of El Norte, a shrewd, skeptical observer of life who is not afraid to turn over the rocks to find what lurks beneath, and yet can find humor in the darkest places. (Viva El Atomico!) Toss in a steaming side of H.L. Menken and you have the most astute and talented chronicler of the living history of his people and the lands they inhabit. Here he ventures further afield to include ecology and another cultural collision, this between Natives and whites. If you are not in te ...more
Jennifer Norton
Book, it's not you, it's me! These stories were very compelling, well written, smart. Because I have met the author, I could almost hear him reading aloud. But, well, the failed American Dream has never been my favorite subject. So I give it 5 stars for quality and 2 stars for how much I identify with it.
Thekelburrows
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
With his story collection The Water Museum, Luis Alberto Urrea displays truly wonderful writing at the sentence-level. These sentences link together to form moving narratives that ask important questions about race in America and what it means to be human. Impressive on all levels.
Janet
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
I am reminded of Junot Diaz as I sit here with the urban dictionary on my lap.

Read for Booktopia Petosky
Beth Finke
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Downloaded this audio book when I found out author Luis Urrea is giving a presentation at the Salzer Library in Chicago (I live in Chicago) and then...kismet! The author was interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross yesterday, too. Between hearing him on Fresh Air and then hearing him read his stories himself in the audio version of The Water Museum, I feel like I know him personally. His library appearance is tonight, and I'm going! This book is one I think might be better to listen to than to ...more
Jimmy
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautiful writing. But not the most interesting prose.

Short stories don't always do it for me. Frankly, they can be hit or miss. Every now and then I like to read a new short story collection, and I've been pleasantly surprised with some. But with The Water Museum, I had a hard time staying interested in the stories. Perhaps it was too high caliber for me. Perhaps it was the fact that the short stories were somehow loosely connected to one another, a loose thread somewhere, but not enough to rea
...more
Jeaninne Escallier Kato
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Having been taught by Mr. Urrea in a recent workshop for writers, I know that the stories in this analogy reflect his true genius. National Public Radio nailed it when they said that he is a monster storyteller with a rock and roll heart. He loves that description. Every story in the Water Museum oozes with time, place, character and soul. Luis is a deeply feeling human being who can artfully tell a story from a true place in his compassionate heart. Even when he critiqued my work, he came from ...more
Vince
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Most collections of short stories include some that are a disappointment and make you wonder how they made past the editor. The Water Museum is rare in that there are simply good stories, better stories, and great stories; not a throwaway in the bunch. The half-star deduction is merely for the previous publication of a few of these short stories in Urrea's 20002 collection. No double-dipping, Luis!

The writing and storytelling here are typical Urrea. Honesty and beauty that you feel in
...more
Megan
Urrea's short stories read like poetry, full of elegant metaphors and exacting but unpretentious language. He also offers insight into a variety of contemporary Mexican-American archetypes and experiences.

Then why 3 stars? Because the female characters that arise in his stories are one-dimensional and reduced to either background shrews or lauded exclusively for their physical attributes. I couldn't continue with this beautiful book after failing to encounter even one strong, complex woman.
Karen
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-2017
This was my "U" book from the library* - I am so glad I read it, it's fabulous. The stories and characters are engaging and the writing is lovely. Inspired me to seek out more Luis Alberto Urrea!

*My "Library Challenge" is to choose books from the library alphabetically by author surname (A through Z, then back to A and start over). I have never abandoned a LC book, though have occasionally struggled. I have found SO MUCH awesome fiction that I never otherwise would have picked up.
Kate
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed a lot of these stories. I found the characters rich and complex and the settings familiar to one other so almost lingering in the background of each successive story but decidedly different. Lots of stories of loss and discontent all thoughtfully composed. Not sure that I fully understood the intention of the titled short story aside from the human connection to water, and the conflicting thought that those unexposed could seemingly fear that unknown?
Jeanne
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A collection of 13 stories all worth reading.
Carlos Martinez
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Some really lovely and memorable stories (and a couple of duds).
Jose Barrientos
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great little stories about the culture, Orale.
Jeannette
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Although I've like Urrea's novels better, this collection of short stories is good. A worthy read
Catherine Strauch
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every story widened my view of the world a little bit. I love his writing.
Gwen
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
confirming what I already knew: I don't enjoy reading short stories.
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Luis Alberto Urrea is the award-winning author of 13 books, including The Hummingbird's Daughter, The Devil's Highway and Into the Beautiful North (May 2009). Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Luis has used the theme of borders, immigration and search for love and belonging throughout his work. A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2005 (nonfiction), he's won the Kiriyama Prize (2006 ...more
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