Water Rites

Posted by : atcampbell | On : May 20, 2008

Water Rites by Mary Rosenblum

Eleven people attended this discussion at  A.T. Campbell’s home. Our topic was Water Rites by former ArmadilloCon Guest of Honor Mary Rosenblum. This is a new book that contains the novel Drylands and several related stories, all set in a near future where the Pacific Northwest has gone dry. Seven of us had read Rosenblum before. Eight people started and finished Water Rites.

Many of us read Drylands it when it came out in the early 90s. We feel that the book is more relevant now, and we found the stories filled in some gaps. We observed that water has been a serious political issue in the West for decades. One person noted that water was a precious commodity in James Michener’s Centennial.

One person thought this was an interesting post-apocalyptic novel, sort of new version of J. G. Ballard’s Burning World. He liked how Rosenblum portrayed the different climates in Eastern and Western Oregon.

Another reader liked the book a lot, but admitted that the book was partially dedicated to him. He thought it was an outstanding first novel. He found it surprising to see a global warming novel nearly 20 years old.  He felt the decision to include the paranormal in this story was strange.  The book had two stories: climate/politics, and paranormal abilities. He liked the characterization in general. In some ways he liked the stories more than the novel.

One person liked the beginning and ending with Jeremy’s magic.  She thought the paranormal stories were cautionary tales. She noted that many characters are motivated by events that happened offstage, and this distances the characters from the reader. Her favorite character was the female trucker, largely because she exists in the here and now. And she wondered why the title of the book was not “Water Rights.”

A couple of people found this book to be well-written but depressing, and painful to be there.  They felt the setting of this book seems very close to today’s reality.

Another person expected not to like this book because it was post-apocalyptic. But she knew the geographical region well, and the familiarity drew her in.

Overall we enjoyed this book, and many of us plan to read more of Rosenblum’s work. After the meeting, we had a nice dinner at Fuddrucker’s.

–A. T. Campbell, III