By Benjamin Warner
Here’s a novel you can read a lot into: how thin the veil of civilization is; what we will do to survive; how much we rely on others for existence; how even the most treasured and respected traditions dating back centuries crumble in the face of adversity; and, of course, how simple things, like clean, plentiful water we take for granted once gone can change everything. The strength of Warner’s novel is its tight focus on a few characters and the mystery as to why what we take for granted, that clean water mentioned previously, can upend our comfortable, safe, and predictable lives. It gets you thinking, and craving a bottle of cold water.
On a hot Friday, Eddie finds himself stuck in an interminable traffic jam. Everybody’s clueless as to the cause, speculating an accident in the far distance. Eddie, once a high school runner, worried about his wife, decides to run home. On the way, he discovers the rivers and streams have vanished and the trees and shrubs lining their banks burned to cinders. At home, he finds no water from the faucets, no electricity, and no way to communicate beyond his suburban block because his cellphone is dead. Laura, his wife, makes it home. They gather with the neighbors and everybody puzzles over the cause, commiserates over the lack of supplies and their unpreparedness, but hold hope that the authorities will solve whatever the problem is.
Needless to say, that doesn’t happen. Eddie, Laura, and their neighbors are on their own. As time passes, rationality passes with it. Disturbing things begin to happen as desperation sets in and any sense of hopefulness dries up like the water in the streams. Escape from the neighborhood to Laura’s parent’s house, her father being a resourceful man, seems the only option. But can they feasibly trek the miles to her parent’s home as disturbances and the lack of water and food traumatize them? And will things be any better elsewhere?
Guaranteed, one thing you will want at hand as you read Thirst, a large bottle of cold water. Literally, it is a thirsty read. w/c