Hydrophilia, or: Water on the Brain

A Listmania! list by jgc (Charlottesville, VA United States)
The list author says: "Now here is a woman I can relate to. Joan Didion from her essay "Holy Water": "My own reverence for water has always taken the form of [a] constant meditation on where the water is, of an obsessive interest not in the politics of water but in the waterworks themselves, in the movement of water from aqueducts and siphons and pumps and forebays and afterbays and weirs and drains, in plumbing on the grand scale. . . . I can put myself to sleep imagining the water dropping a thousand feet into the turbines at Churchill Falls in Labrador." Amen, sister. I'm a little preoccupied with water myself, whether it's trapped in swimming pools, coursing through waterways, or carving up the landscape. Following are some key works of art that understand and express this love for water, this hydrophilia."
The White Album: Essays (FSG Classics)
1.  The White Album: Essays (FSG Classics) by Joan Didion
The list author says:
  "Didion is a confirmed hydrophile. In addition to the great "Holy Water" essay, this collection includes her piece on the Hoover Dam--journalism as prose poem."
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Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply (Duckworth Archaeology)
2.  Roman Aqueducts and Water Supply (Duckworth Archaeology) by Arthur Hodge
The list author says:
  "Hydrophilia isn't just a mater of watching the waters lapping the shore. There are other things to think about, like aqueducts, siphons, cisterns, the role of gravity, of pressure. Written by a classicist (not an engineer), this survey of the Romans as epic plumbers is highly readable, with something fairly mind-expanding on every page."
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The Bottom of the Harbor
3.  The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell
The list author says:
  ""I never get tired of looking at it," Mitchell writes of the Hudson--"It hypnotizes me." The New York Harbor in 1951 was already terribly polluted, and Mitchell does show us the bubbling sludge, the rat-infested wharfs; he also pines for the vanished oyster beds and fish migrations. But he's not a scold; he relates to the rivermen, and one day he witnesses a 6-foot sturgeon rise from the water."
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Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi (Library of America)
4.  Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi (Library of America) by Mark Twain
The list author says:
  "An obvious influence on Mitchell, Twain wrote in a pre-environmental era, when the river still had the upper hand over humans. Twain can't get over this watery serpent that will not stay put. He tells us how the 1,300 miles La Salle originally explored is all dry ground now--and is so astonished by it he writes it ALL IN CAPS."
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4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (595 customer reviews)

Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition
5.  Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, Revised Edition by Marc Reisner
The list author says:
  "The final word on the history of water in the American west, this classic work conjures up the mighty 19th-century rivers in all their unexplored glory before laying out the epic reclamation projects of the 20th: Owens Valley, the LA Aqueduct, and the multitudes of dams that changed the west forever."
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4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews) | 1 customer discussion

Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition)
6.  Chinatown (Special Collector's Edition) DVD ~ Jack Nicholson
The list author says:
  "Robert Towne's script combines the Owens Valley myth with a murder mystery in which the waterworks director's corpse is found in a freshwater spillway but has saltwater in its lungs. The DVD includes an excellent trio of documentaries on the history of the LA water supply."
$14.95   Used & New from: $0.48
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (596 customer reviews) | 5 customer discussions

David Hockney
7.  David Hockney by Paul Melia
The list author says:
  "While 'Cadillac Desert' depicts the terrible toll (and impending disaster) of moving so damn much water to California, the fact remains: those oases are incredible. The LA swimming pool--hidden away, under-used, reflecting sun and sky, day in and day out--has an austere beauty all its own. Hockney's pool paintings constitute one of the great running works in modern art: canvases within canvases."
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4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

The Swimmer: The John Cheever Audio Collection
8.  The Swimmer: The John Cheever Audio Collection by John Cheever
The list author says:
  "Neddy Merrill, the suburbanite who literally swims to his foreclosed house through an ever-colder chain of backyard pools, is John Cheever's most famous creation, but Cheever's stories  (and life) were full of such plunges--his updating of the Narcissus myth, for example, in which a woman returns home from shopping to find her "daughter had turned into a swimming pool.""
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Waterland
9.  Waterland by Graham Swift
The list author says:
  "My preoccupation with water is so Ameri-centric, I sometimes forget that it exists in other places. Swift's saga, set on the River Leem in the dark, soggy Fens of east England, is a stunningly evocative look at water through a distinctly British lens, with sluices and eel traps and a cool, slimy smell on everything."
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4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

Ulysses (Oxford World's Classics)
10.  Ulysses (Oxford World's Classics) by James Joyce
The list author says:
  "Joyce was a total hydrophile. The River Liffey winds all through Finnegans Wake, as it does through this book, which also contains two of the most glorious paragraphs in English literature: an insanely detailed description of tap water's journey through the Dublin pipes, followed by an inventory of the world's bodies of water."
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3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (620 customer reviews) | 4 customer discussions

Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Double Feature)
11.  Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Double Feature) DVD ~ Yves Montand
The list author says:
  "I don't think the second half of this two-film saga always maintains the careful balance between hard naturalism and operatic fairy tale (and Emmanuelle Beart, with her supermodel looks, doesn't help), but for the most part this grand parable, about a semi-arid farmland in Provence and the spring water that is its lifeblood, is a powerful evocation of humans and their environment."
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4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews) | 4 customer discussions

Dark Water (Unrated Widescreen Edition)
12.  Dark Water (Unrated Widescreen Edition) DVD ~ Jennifer Connelly
The list author says:
  "In Walter Salles' fine, overlooked horror film a drowned child haunts a single-parent family that has just moved to the already spooky-enough Roosevelt Island in the East River. The movie is utterly water-obsessed, with endless rain, suffocating, wall-rotting dampness, leaks so bad they flood whole apartments, and a rooftop water tank holding all your worst dreams."
$6.70   Used & New from: $0.01
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)

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jgc (Charlottesville, VA United States)
Qualifications: I often drink it, occasionally bathe in it
Last updated: 8/18/10
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