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IN BRIEF

Fiction

March 06, 1994|ERIKA TAYLOR

THE WATERS OF THIRST by Adam Mars-Jones (Alfred A. Knopf: $20; 182 pp.) Food, motorcycle riders, and a porn star are constant obsessions for William, the narrator of Adam Mars-Jones' novel, "The Waters of Thirst." William tells his story in a sad, smart monologue that has no actual scenes, chapter breaks or clear explanation of how much time passes from beginning to end. He is just there. As a result, the whole book feels motionless, but in an oddly captivating way like the light in a good painting.

At times William comes across less than sympathetic. He has a life threatening disease, which is awful, but the indulgence it brings out in him can be even worse. Terry, William's longtime lover (both are men) handles William's problems with a lot of patience though we never see his character very clearly. "The Waters of Thirst" is William's show.

In the end, William does an unbelievably selfish act that involves a dog belonging to him and Terry. One may wish for the book's culmination to be presented a little less ambiguously--this reviewer had to read the section three times before understanding exactly what had transpired. But, aside from that, Mars-Jones has written a compelling and singular novel.

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