“A pulsating city…an electric time... a mastermind of fiction... an immense, extraordinary achievement.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“What Charles Dickens was to London, E.L. Doctorow is becoming to New York. Like Dickens he shows enormous compassion for his subject, at the same time driving a stake through the heart of its corruption.”
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Profoundly haunting... a journey of the imagination into uncharted territory... It is as if Edgar Allen Poe and Henry James had combined their geniuses.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A flawless thriller... A secret laboratory, a criminal genius, and two missing persons add up to a chillingly prescient tale... ”
—Entertainment Weekly

“Startling and spellbinding... The waters that lave the narrative... all run to the great confluence, where the deepest issues of life and death are borne along on the swift, sure vessel of [Doctorow’s] poetic imagination.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Hypnotic... a dazzling romp, an extraordinary read, given strength and grace by the telling, by the poetic voice and controlled cynical lyricism of its streetwise and world-weary narrator.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

From The Waterworks

Ever since this day I have dreamt sometimes... I, a street rat in my soul, dream even now... that if it were possible to lift this littered, paved Manhattan from the earth..., and all its torn and dripping pipes and conduits and tracks and cablesx — all of it, like a scab from new skin underneathx — how seedlings would sprout, and freshets bubble up, and brush and grasses would grow over the rolling hills... entanglements of vines, and fields of wild blueberry and blackberry... There would be oak trees for shade against the heat, and white birches and weeping willows... and in winter, snow would lie everlastingly white until it ran off as pure and glistening as spring water. A season of two of this, and the mute, protesting culture buried for so many industrial years under the tenements and factories... would rise again... of the lean, religious Indians of the bounteous earth, who lived without money or lasting architecture, flat and close to the ground — hunting, trapping, fishing, growing their corn, praying... always praying in solemn thanksgiving for their clear and short life in this quiet universe. Such love l have for those savage polytheists of my mind... those friends of light and leaf... those free men and women... such envy for the inadequate stories they told each other, their taxonomies, cosmologies... their lovely dreams of the world they stood on and who was holding it up...

Excerpted from The Waterworks by E. L. Doctorow Copyright © 2012 by E.L. Doctorow. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.