Having never read anything by Colin Dodds before and not knowing anything about this book before I received it, I have to admit I was startled by the beginning scenes of WATERSHED. What are these people doing on the airplane? Are they actually have sex? Wait, did he just eject her from the airplane after he was done with her? What in the world is going on here?
Upon landing, naked, after parachuting from the plane after ejection, Raquel is picked up by Norwood, a former sculptor who now lives in a Ludlite [sic] community, shunning all new technology and breeding snakes. He is distrustful of technology, and brings up points that many other technology-curmudgeons will recognize:
It’s easier because most so-called entertainment is repetitive crap, because your so-called friends on the networks are too busy broadcasting themselves to do anything interesting. It’s easier because abundant information nevelr has a chance to mean anything, because we’re all better off at least trying to be human beings, instead of allowing ourselves to be reduced to pixel-tumors in an inescapable global network. That’s why it’s easier.
While it takes a while to become oriented in the story, once the pieces start to fall together, the reader is taken on quite an odd turn of events. The characters of Dodds’s novel live in a society in which they are preparing to celebrate the first September 11 National Day of Remembrance and Unity, an event that involves the re-destruction of the World Trade Center in New York City. It’s a reality not that far different from our own, or rather a reality not terribly far removed from our own. This could easily be our reality, particularly in the abundance of reality television shows and popularity of reality television show personalities in American society. Dodds seems to recognize the pervasive position technology and social media takes in our current world, and reminds his readers that it’s worth it to be cautious.
In addition to the technological and social concerns Dodds presents in his novel, there’s a bit of a mystery central to the story as well which begins with Raquel’s sudden descent from the plane in the beginning of the novel. At times, it reads like a modern-day version of a classic noir novel as one tries to determine each character’s role in the story and who is and is not a good guy. From a personal perspective, the Ludlite community was of more to interest and wish the focus had been on that rather than as a feature that popped its head up a few times throughout the novel.
Regardless, Dodds writes in a down-to-earth, simplistic (but not remedial) manner that makes reading the novel enjoyable. His portrayals of society and members within it leaves this reader feeling a bit more paranoid and cynical than she started out, which may or may not have been the author’s actual intention. It’s one of the stranger and unconventional love stories I have read in quite some time.