The story of a changing American landscape and an examination of one of the darkest periods in this country's past, told through the stories of the individual loves and losses that weave together to form the fabric of our shared history.
[Wiggins'] characters are given to the lively, comic backtalk of the golden-age Hollywood movies often filmed nearby. Tonally, this is tricky to reconcile with the running of a concentration camp ... Ms. Wiggins stresses that her characters are all honorable people doing their best in a bad situation, even working together to provide seed money and business opportunities for the dispossessed prisoners. The vigor and sweep of her writing has real rhetorical potency. I still don’t think this is a fit subject for Greatest Generation heroics but Properties of Thirst comes as close as anything will to persuading me.
Properties of Thirst is sprawling, rich, deep, passionate, beautiful, and as big as one of its key protagonists, the six-foot-plus California rancher Rocky Rhodes, and the vast mountain ranges he loves. Author Marianne Wiggins, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, knows how to craft an absorbing story with full-bodied characters and immersive descriptions ... even at 544 pages, this novel is too thin for all the themes and subplots that it tries to tackle ... With so many pivotal characters ranging across so much territory, it’s no wonder Wiggins can’t follow every plot or theme to its fullest ... the literary world is fortunate that Wiggins managed to complete this amazing novel.
Novels, purporting to be the next necessary heart-wrenching tale of wartime heroism, are seemingly everywhere, but rarely do they live up to expectations.Properties of Thirst defies, dispels and demolishes those expectations and biases in the best way ... Masterful ... Readers won't be able to look away ... Wiggins' writing, which can be fragmented or polished depending on the page, opens up microscopic universes and sprawling landscapes alike. It's a joy to read.