When Charles Bowden’s Killing the Hidden Waters was first published in 1977, the population of Arizona – the U.S. state in which he was then living and part of the region in which so much of his narrative takes place – was a little under two-and-a-half million people. In 2003, the year in which his new introduction “What I Learned Watching the Wells Go Down” was added to the fifth paperback printing of the book, the state’s population had risen to over five million. Most who read it thought it both inspired and brilliant, but according to his opening words in the new introduction, he “went wrong.”
“I got into bird watching because I discovered I could be on a murder scene and there’d be birds. So I got these little binoculars I’d carry in my pocket because I had to have some connection to the natural world – or the sane world – if I was going to do this.”
As Bowden told Brooke Gladstone during an interview on WNYC’s On the Media regarding his recent book Dreamland, “My dream is to invite a reader into a room and pour a nice cup of tea and then nail the damn door shut.” It is a dream that he has unquestionably realized.