Love, Violence And Lou Reed, On Display In 'The Water Museum'

April 8, 2015 2:03 PM

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There's a telling moment in one of the stories in Luis Alberto Urrea's The Water Museum, when two high school friends are talking about their mutual love for the Velvet Underground. "You like Berlin?" asks one of the boys. "Lou Reed's best album, dude!" A lot of Reed's fans (including this one) would agree, but it's a controversial record — it's certainly one of the most depressing rock albums in history, heavily suffused with references to suicide, violence and drug abuse. It's a beautiful work of art that tells its listeners that as bad as things may be now, they can always get much, much worse.

The Water Museum isn't as hopeless or morbid as Berlin, but Urrea and Reed have at least one thing in common: They're both too honest to give the tales they tell artificially happy endings. And while not all of the 13 stories in Urrea's new collection are dire, they're all realistic and unsparing, a...

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