The Mercury Fountain

The Mercury Fountain

by Eliza Factor


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“Eliza Factor’s first novel, The Mercury Fountain, explores what happens when a life driven by ideology confronts implacable truths of science and human nature. It also shows how leaders can inflict damage by neglecting the real needs of real people. Though the action takes place between 1900 and 1923, the resonance feel alarmingly contemporary. . . Factor counters convention with a sharp sense of character, evocative subplots and the dangerous allure of mercury itself.”
--New York Times Book Review

"Factor develops her characters in entertaining ways while building a novel of social realism."
--Kirkus Reviews

Set in a remote stretch of desert near the border of west Texas and Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century, this story follows the pursuits of Owen Scraperton as he struggles to establish Pristina, a utopian community based on mercury mining that aims to resolve the great questions of labor and race. As age, love, and experience cause Owen to modify his original vision, his fiercely idealistic daughter Victoria remains true to Pristina's founding principles—setting them up for a major conflict that captures the imagination of the entire town. The Mercury Fountain combines realistic modern writing with elements from American and Greco-Roman mythology, taking its cue from Mercury, the most slippery and mischievous of gods, who rules over science, commerce, eloquence, and thievery.

Eliza Factor was born in 1968 in Boston, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. The Mercury Fountain is her debut novel.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617750366
Publisher: Akashic Books
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Eliza Factor: Eliza Factor was born in 1968 in Boston, Mass. She has lived in Washington, D.C.; Blois, France; San Francisco; Tempe, Arizona; and New York City. She has spent a lot of time in the desert, sniffing out old mercury mines, as well as waiting tables, teaching English, painting, film making, roofing, and bike messengering. She now finds herself living in Brooklyn with her husband, three kids, and a dog.

Read an Excerpt


By Eliza Factor

Akashic Books

Copyright © 2012 Eliza Factor
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-61775-036-6

Chapter One


* * *

The scream must have come from Casa Grande. There were no other houses, no trees or huts, no jackals, only the bone-white road, the dusty scrub. Now all was quiet. The buzz of insects filled Ysidro's ears, and far away, a mining blast. Maybe he had misheard, maybe nothing was wrong. He was twelve years old, unarmed, and not allowed anywhere near Casa Grande on a school day.

It happened again, definitely a scream, definitely coming from the Scraperton house. Ysidro scrambled up the hill, up the forbidden steps of the veranda, to the front door, but its grandeur overcame him. Silence again, except for his own raggedy breath. He headed toward the back door, the planks of the porch creaking under his feet. The windows were all shuttered, until around the corner of the house he came to an open one. There she was. He gaped.

She didn't look a bit like the Mrs. Scraperton the men pretended not to look at. Her hair was clammed around her skull. Her skin was the color of a sick moon. A trickle of something that looked like blood ran down her chin. She doubled over and screamed again, the veins standing out in her temples. She rose back up—only then did Ysidro notice her belly. It was huge, monstrously round. He understood, and as he understood the floor of the porch seemed to move an inch or two. He felt as was as if he were standing on the banks of the Rio Bravo, right on the border of the quicksand. He had to put his hand onto the house to steady himself.

"Ysidro!" Aunt Alma pounded up the back stairs of the veranda. Her cheeks were red, her hair was flying out of her braid.

"I think Mrs. Scraperton needs the doctor," he managed to say.

"He's coming. He's on his way." Alma stood over him, panting unevenly, hands on hips. "What are you doing here? What's wrong with you? You look green."

"I'm fine."

Alma frowned.

"I am." He wasn't lying. The floorboards were getting solid again.

Alma kneaded her forehead, looking from him to Mrs. Scraperton and back again. "Are you all right to get Mr. Scraperton?"

The boy didn't move for a moment, stunned by this turn of events. Get Mr. Scraperton? He, Ysidro Herrida, would get to deliver this message? It was unbelievable, the kind of wonderful thing that he imagined for himself, those hours dawdling down by the fishing hole, but that he never expected to really happen.

"Go. Hurry. He needs to be here. The baby is coming."

A mile he raced, over burning sand, toward the mining workings, the scaffolding and towers brave and big and sharply visible against the desert flat. The sickening feeling that had overtaken him on the porch was all but forgotten. Get Mr. Scraperton! The order resounded with each slap of his huaraches. Get Mr. Scraperton! How would he announce it? Mrs. Scraperton is having a baby. No, not respectful enough. Sir, your wife is in labor. That was better, more manful. Maybe he'd get to shake his hand again. He'd only shook hands with him once but he'd remember it forever: like the energy of the whole planet had pulsed through him and he felt strong and warm and capable of doing all the amazing things that Mr. Scraperton wanted him to do.

At Independence Avenue, his lungs felt like they were going to crack open his chest. He swerved through the carts and horses and women bringing home food for supper. "Ysidro!" yelled Gwen, from the steps of Offitz & Carruthers. He pretended not to hear and plowed straight into a group of Anglo ladies. They jumped around, yelling angrily and calling for a patrol. He sped around a corner. Footsteps sounded behind him. He could not let himself get caught. The patrol would hassle him for hours. He shot around another corner, the footsteps close at his heels. He didn't understand. The patrols were wrecks, a cinch to outrun. He pushed himself as fast as he could, still the footsteps gained. And gained. They were right beside him.

It wasn't a patrol. It was Gwen. He should have known. She was the fastest girl in school. "Hi," she said, matching him stride for stride. "Don't worry about that patrol back there. It was just Poc. He didn't see who you were."

No way he could speak, he could barely breathe, and now a stitch pinched his ribs. They kept running, only one more block to Pristina HQ. "I wanted to thank you," Gwen said between breaths. "You know, yesterday, for helping me out when I had to do that recitation." She could run and smile at the same time. Her lips were pale, the color of the pink sand they had out by the quarry. And her hair was red, almost like Mrs. Scraperton's, when Mrs. Scraperton looked like Mrs. Scraperton, her hair all shiny and coppery, piled on top of her head with little ringlets dripping down.

He flew forward and skidded across the hard packed dirt. "You okay?" Gwen asked, fluttering around, touching his back and arm. He pushed himself back to his feet, but he was breathing too hard to stand up straight. She put a hand on his shoulder. "You might not be the best runner," she said, "but you sure are the best speaker. I swear, if they let anyone win the oration contest two years in a row, you would."

"I've got to go," he said between big gulps of air. "I've got to deliver an important message."

"Wait." She dug in her pocket. "Here." She handed him a caramel. "I'm sorry, it's a little mushed up."

He squeezed it, mushing it more. "Thanks, Gwen." She smiled, pale lips and a little freckle on her nose. He stumbled backward.

At Pristina HQ, Grierson looked at him skeptically. "Mr. Scraperton's not here. He's in Shaft 8, won't be back till six or seven."

This was the time to give the message to Grierson, who would give it to a mine messenger, who would deliver it to Shaft 8. But what of that handshake? What of that beautiful phrase—Sir, your wife is in labor—which he had said in his head until the words seemed to glow with import and beauty? Hadn't Alma said: Get Mr. Scraperton? She hadn't said: Get a messenger, tell Grierson. Shaft 8 was on the other side of town, past the school, the warehouses, the jaw crusher. It was the deepest shaft of all, the Glory Hole, the richest mercury load in the whole new world. In only a year he could work there, if all went well, but not until he was thirteen.

He got to the fence that encircled the mine and slipped through the hole. A group of men neared, slowly lugging equipment and grumbling about the lift. He hid behind a pile of tailings. When they were gone, he ran up the slope to the shaft building and scrambled inside. It was so dark and musty he couldn't see a thing. When his eyes adjusted, he made out gears bigger than wagon wheels. Shadowy men hovered about them, shining their lanterns and talking in low, hard voices.

Someone grabbed Ysidro from behind. "Where do you think you're going?" The boy could barely breathe, his collar was being pulled so tightly. "Speak, kid." A giant Anglo poked his chest. "Where do you think you're going?"

"Hey!" José María appeared out of the murk, mustached and handsome in his engineer's suit.

"Found him sneaking around," the Anglo muttered resentfully. "He won't tell me what he was doing."

Ysidro drew himself up as tall as he could. "I have a message for Mr. Scraperton."

"Yeah?" said José María. "And what is it?"

"I'm not supposed to tell," Ysidro answered. "It's personal and confidential." He'd seen the phrase on an envelope at Offitz & Carruthers.

The Anglo laughed, bits of spit spraying out. "Ha! Personal and confidential. Some kid, hey!" The man pounded him on the back, as if they were all of a sudden friends, but his pats were so strong that Ysidro bent over coughing.

José María regarded him steadily. "You can't go down there, son. As you well know." He nodded at the Anglo. "You, get back to work." A surge of pride shot through Ysidro. José María had proved himself so smart, he could boss around even the Anglos. When the man had left, José María patted Ysidro's shoulder. "Give me the message." His gaze had the effect of making Ysidro want to please him, but he couldn't give up, not so easily. José María smiled. "A messenger is no job for a boy with such skinny legs."

"My legs aren't skinny."

José María laughed.

"I can run fast."

"The lift is out. Did you know that?"

Ysidro shrugged. What was a lift? Shafts 2 and 5 didn't even have them; his cousins scaled up and down miles of ladders every day.

José María gave him directions. Ysidro understood them well enough; he knew the layout of the mine from the maps at school. And he had no trouble adjusting the headlamp—he'd had plenty of practice with his father's.

"Take a sip before you go," José María said, handing him the canteen. "It's hot down there."

"Thank you." Ysidro gulped down the tinny water. Then he grabbed onto the emergency shaft ladder and began his descent. The mine air wrapped around him, a rotten-egg smell of sulfur, made worse by the heat. He had smelled it before, on his father's clothes, on the winds that swept through town, but never so strong. After a while he could detect whiffs of sweetness mixed into the rottenness, bits of earth amidst the sulfur and piss and sweat and smoke. He got to a ledge where the first ladder ended and another began. The shaft grew darker. Hotter. His hands were greasy with sweat. Usually heat felt sharp, like a slap. You protected yourself from it with hats and white cotton, but this was different, slimy. He wiped his hands on his pants, spat at them, wiped them again. Down he went, rung after rung. Below, he could see nothing but an endless well of boiling black. But it wasn't endless. It was 428 feet—not that deep for a mine—and at the bottom he figured he would find Mr. Scraperton.

His foot hit solid ground. What was this? He couldn't be at the bottom, not yet. Where were the miners? He was all alone, on some sort of platform. His headlamp lit up tunnels filled with waste rock and numbers painted on the walls. He saw the beginning of another ladder and hurried toward it, then heard something. In front of him an old cardboard box marked Hercules Blasting Caps moved. He jumped back. A rat came out, a weird, slow-moving rat that rolled over and jerked its head sideways. He edged around it uneasily.

On the third ladder, the light from the top of the shaft completely disappeared. He couldn't hear anything. No men. None of the swearing or singing or drilling or hauling he'd learned about, no vigorous clamor of noble labor, none of that, only his own breath and the slip of his shoes on the iron rungs. How could this be Shaft 8? The Glory Hole? The walls narrowed. Maybe José María had tricked him, sent him down a dead hole as punishment for trying to sneak in. He shook his arms out, one at a time. The air seemed to resist him and seep into him at once. The smell was even worse now, sourer than it had been up at the top, and hotter. Like terrible breath. His abuela said there were brujas that lived in the mountains, witches that put spells on men and tried to lure them into their caves. He imagined that they'd have breath like this, hot and thick and black. They'd breathe on you and blind you.

He puffed out his cheeks and blew away the bad thought. It was wrong to think this way. Superstitions eroded your faculties.

The air got hotter and pressed in closer. He could barely breathe. You had to keep your faculties clear. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to merge into the anatomy of the planet. But what did that mean, the anatomy of the planet? Merging into it? It was black. He couldn't see. He could have been lured. He was scaling down a bruja's throat. He had to stop. She might swallow.

A whistle blew, sharp and clear and no-nonsense. Then a blast, and the ladder quivered against the rock. Ysidro hung on, whooping and laughing. Afterward, catching his breath, he experienced a different kind of heat, a hot well of shame that bubbled inside him. He'd been acting like a peon, taking brujas seriously. He'd almost betrayed Nature. He scrambled as quickly as he could, ignoring the rubbery feeling in his legs. Finally, a light glowed beneath him. He went even faster, fully understanding why moths dive into lanterns. The walls of the shaft gave way, and he entered a giant cavern. Fires blazed at the base, men shouted, mules brayed. He jumped to the ground, rubbed the cramp out of his hands, and made his way to the West Tunnel.

The West Tunnel was supported by beams of cottonwood and strung with lamps, quieter than the big cavern until he neared a working area and the banging of metal and stone filled his ears. He turned a corner and found himself in a small cavern with blood-red walls and a fire at its center. Four or five men hurled picks and crowbars at the overhang. Their bodies were covered by a coat of red dust made redder still by the reflection of the flames. Their muscles glided under their skin like fishes caught inside their bodies. Ysidro shouted, but no one heard. He stepped closer, blinking each time the miners struck. The biggest man there turned around. Red dust had taken over every part of his face except for his eyes which glowed white and watery.

"Ysidro," the man said; it would have been a scary voice, save for the bit of friendliness tucked into it. Ysidro recognized his uncle, Jorge Rivera, and asked him if he was going the right way.

"As far as I know," said Jorge. "He was down there after lunch. You've got a ways to go. Better hurry."

He thanked his uncle and ran down a succession of crosscuts, trying to go as fast as a real messenger would. After a while, the tram tracks ended and the lanterns were replaced by candles stabbed onto stakes. A headlamp shone in the darkness ahead; it got brighter, and the tunnel filled with the sharp smell of a tanatero bent under his load. A moment later, another came, stooped low and running very fast. Then another. The tanateros were haulers who carried the ore in rawhide sacks strapped to their foreheads. Most were peons, and Ysidro gave them a wide berth. You didn't want to mess with peons. They polluted the mines with their virgins and altars and sullen attitudes. Ysidro kept an eye out for Javier, his cousin, who wasn't a peon, but a brave, strong tanatero who always placed in the ladder races. He didn't see him, but he saw many others. They looked straight ahead with their strange white eyes, and their breath came out gasping. One of them stopped to tell him that if he didn't watch out, he'd bump into Mr. Scraperton.

"I'm looking for Mr. Scraperton," he said.

The tanatero laughed. He shouted something that Ysidro didn't understand to the man in front of him. The other man laughed and their laughter echoed down the sweaty tunnel. Then it faded and the candles thinned. Ysidro was all alone. He hurried onward until he had to stop, his legs too jiggly to go on. He'd never realized how big the mine was. It was bigger than Pristina, bigger even than the distance from Pristina to Casa Grande, maybe even bigger than the distance between Pristina and his fishing spot. He came to a precipice. The only way down was a gallina ladder, which wasn't really a ladder, but a tree trunk, with the bark skinned off and shallow toeholds hacked in. He hugged it tight. He'd never been on a gallina ladder before. The first few notches were pretty shaky, but he quickly got used to it. That's when he noticed the smell. Wood. He buried his nose in a toehold. Yes, definitely. You could still smell the tree. He imagined the ladder before it was skinned and hacked, a shade-giving alamo down by the creek. He used to watch the sun coming through their leafy branches. It was a shame they'd cut them all down, but they'd had to. That's what his abuela didn't understand: they'd had to. You needed to cut down the alamos to let the mercury out.

He reached the bottom and continued along a narrow dark tunnel, wondering how much farther it could possibly be. Something appeared in front of him. A shaggy white face with a long nose and pointy ears. A burro. But a strange burro; it stood so quietly and its eyes were blue. It seemed like an apparition. Ysidro took a breath and forced himself to touch it. It snorted. A real burro snort.


Excerpted from THE MERCURY FOUNTAIN by Eliza Factor Copyright © 2012 by Eliza Factor. Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Mercury Fountain 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
reb922 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mercury Fountain is the story of a community set up near the border of Mexico that revolves around the mining of Mercury. Owen Pristina¿s founder, his wife Delores and his daughter Victoria over the course of time begin to have differing opinions about how Pristina should be run. Under the surface is dissention among the ¿believers¿ and those who lived there before the creation of Pristina. There si also the mostly unnamed threat of Mercury poisoning. I enjoyed this book but found myself lost at times. As the book progresses we get more information about this society but I could have used a bit more set up at the beginning. An interesting book about one man¿s attempt to set up his own utopia and the successes and conflicts that arise.
LynnGW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mercury Fountain by Eliza Factor follows a family (the Scrapertons) as they try to forge a life in an in an utopian society, Pristina. Mercury mining creates the financial means of survival. The Mercury Fountain is built in the town square. It demonstrates the difficulties in trying to create a utopian society that is self-sufficient. It reminded me of Animal Farm in that way. The short-comings of this community were well-dispayed. The language was very visual-I could picture the scene and characters easily. That said, it could have used more dialogue. For the most part I liked this book. I enjoyed the characters; Victoria is unique. The mercury mining industry seems well-researched. It piqued my curiosity about that. Sometimes the flow of the story kind of meandered or seemed to go off on a tangent. A little editing could take care of that. The characters were well-developed, shortcomings and all. I liked the fact that the women in the book were strong and self-reliant. I liked that the men weren't always all-knowing. It shows a lack of stereotyping. Occasionally minor characters were introduced or reintroduced and I didn't know who they were. A brief descripition would take care of that.
swivelgal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried to love this book. I enjoy dystopian books but found this one to be slow and difficult to get into. I took a week break about half-way through the book. At the end of that week, I realized that I couldn't remember any of the characters.
Bookish59 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't connect with this novel at all, nor with most of the characters, especially Dolores and Victoria. I resented Owen for coercing people around him to sacrifice far too much for HIS dream while he believed he was IMPROVING their lives. That kind of self-centered audacity while angering me is very compelling. Because of engendering this feeling, I will admit that Factor did a great job creating this character. But there were too many things going on I didn't understand at all. For example:why were the soldiers called in to protect the town, and allowed to abuse its residents? Why were people SO afraid of Owen?I would definitely not recommend this novel.
rhshelver on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
AS well-crafted book that has interesting plot points and does not progress along typical lines, The Mercury Fountain would have been better and more engaging had the feelings of any of the characters been fleshed out. Readers see remarkably little emotion, considering that the tale is largely told from alternating perspectives of the main characters. There are also main events that go unexplained, though critical to the plot of the story, such as the killing of a villager by the military force stationed in the town or the reconciliation of Mr & Mrs Scraperton.
meldridge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I have to say that it is not a book I would have chosen on my own, but am glad that I got the opportunity to read it. It is interesting on a couple different levels. The surface story was okay although ended a little darker than I would have liked. As an example of the rise and fall of (fill in the blank) it was pretty good. It showed how great ideas while great are still subject to corruption and that the perfect world can not and will never exist forever. It is also a lesson on what happens when you become too narrow or focused on only certain aspects of your goal and fail to notice everything else going on around you. I liked both the writing style and the characters. I have to admit I would have liked it to last a little longer just to spend a little more time with Badinoe and Dolores. I would recommend this, but not as a easy read beach book.
angela.vaughn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an overall good book. Not fabulous, but good. I like the story's ever changing narrative. AndI even liked the setting and story line, but for some reason I was just read for the end to come. It seemed to drag on when it could have moved a little faster. With that set aside I would recommend it to others.
MmeRose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I did not like this book. I finished it only because I felt obligated, as it was from Early Reviewers.There was little information about Owen's utopian ideals. Without understanding his dream, Dolores' "act of defiance" had no power.The story rambles; the perspective changes from character to character, with none of them fully developed. It was hard to become involved with them because I didn't know them. Important scenes had no buildup, popping up out of nowhere. There were scenes that had no apparent purpose, like Delores riding to the box canyon to meet Owen and Victoria. As I recall, there were only two scenes at the mine.The tongue business was simply ridiculous from the attack to the end.I don't recommend this and I won't be looking for further books by this author.
Gerri007 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book for the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It is not a book I would have chosen but I do like to be challenged to read diverse books. At the beginning I found it difficult to immerse myself in the book but as the story unfolded and the strange quirky characters developed,I found my interest in & desire to read increasing but not enough to recommend the book as a good read. I will offer it to others thru Book Mooch, so that more readers can make their own decisions about the book.
Cecilturtle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the energy of this book: Owen's passion for the mercury and a new world order, Dolores' passion for freedom especially of thought and spirit, Victoria's passion for her people and roots. Through the commonality of the mine, Factor explores these various themes of love, politics, societal models, human relationships, ancestral traditions. Badinoe as a foil to Owen lends a nice contrast of irrationalities: Owen for the ore and Badinoe for his failure, each man recognizing the other for what he is.Whereas I might have been disappointed in the collapse of Owen's world, I find that the one that emerges from Victoria's conscientiousness is even better: anchored in the past but drawn to the future, it has a better chance of success, it is more encompassing and it is a wonderful note on which to end this marvelous novel.
phranchk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book more than I ultimately did. It started out strong and was interesting, but it just kind of fell apart. There was very little character depth and I felt nothing for them. They were all rather 2 dimensional. Not much happened over the 20 years the story took place. Towards the end of the book I found myself just wanting to finish so I could get on to something else. I was hoping there would be some type of fantastic finish, but it never materialized. The base of the story has some potential to be something greater, but both the characters and the story need more depth.
Yells on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book. I love dystopian/utopian novels and this one sounded like a winner but it just fell flat. Halfway through and I was still waiting for something exciting to happen. And I must say, I don't generally judge a book by its cover but this is one extremely unattractive and confusing cover. It almost looks like it should be a graphic novel. I gave it 2-stars because it started off okay but the overall story was just plain weird.
Snowstorm14 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I won this through early reads. There wasn't much I liked in this novel. The flow of the story was choppy and there was too much in the mind's eye thinking and not enough narration. The focus shifted from one character to another so there was no main protagonist. And until the last chapter, very little plot. A stubbed toe would have been a major event. Things seem to happen out of nowhere because there is no buildup to it. Soldiers suddenly materialize. A woman has a love interest in a character she virtually ignored previously.The prose occasionally rambles like a tumbleweed in a high wind: "She knew everything. The dog's breath, the cost of electric mine trams, the number of girls Ysidro had kissed." Surely there are easier and less smelly ways to identify your dog.Then only at the end is the mine used as a device in this book. Otherwise it was irrelevant.The writing wasn't terrible and there is a kernel of a story present but it took too long to develop. The book could have used a good editing, which happens frequently with small indie publishers.It did hold my interest enough to finish it but it was way short of a good read.(less)
dmclane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Eliza Factor has really done a wonderful job on this novel. Even though the novel is set in along the Texas border, it reminds me of my Aunt¿s stories of family in Mexico operating mines during the same time period. As the book notes blurb on the author says she lives in Brooklyn, I can not help but wonder if she too had family, Ingineros, in Mexico. While the novel would be an interesting read just as a business school study of the rise and fall of a proprietorship; the author captures the personality of the native culture, developing it with sufficient understanding to be believable and make the reader sympathetic. And there¿s a rational plot line to the whole novel, one that keeps your interest, in spite of inevitability of outcome. All told a super first novel; I¿m looking forward to more.
kmaziarz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mercury Fountain is set at the turn of the 20th century in the town of Pristina, a utopian society founded by charismatic Owen Scraperton. The settlement's main source of income comes from mining mercury. Owen's daughter, Victoria, is being groomed to lead the community after Owen. Owen's wife, Dolores, who is the daughter of an aristocratic Mexican family, hates the drudgery, loneliness, and poverty of the life she's found herself in as Mrs. Scaperton. In addition, the town doctor, alcoholic Badinoe¿with whom Dolores has struck up a friendship¿is compiling research for a book on the hazardous effects of mercury, which Owen rejects. Initially interesting, the story quickly becomes flat and the characters unlikable.
RaucousRain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this book right from the very beginning, and it held my interest through until its strong conclusion. The story is set in Texas near the Mexican border, and it was fascinating to read an unusual and compelling story about a fictional border town where there actually had been mercury mining in that area. A number of years ago, I visited what is left of the old Mariscal mercury mine located inside Big Bend National Park and I personally thought of that particular location which is very close to the Mexican border. However, the book is much more than a story of the rise and fall of a mining town. I found The Mercury Fountain to be a unique and engrossing tale of the American West -- a good story inhabited by an interesting mosaic of characters.
vrwolf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mercury Fountain is a nice rambling story about a Utopian mining town in West Texas. The plot is fairly straight-forward and emphasis seems to be on the themes and the atmosphere rather than the action. However, Factor pulls it off. The characters and the ideas they represent are interesting and presenting in a flowing way. Many characters and concepts bob in and out of the storyline, which helped me stay involved.
Esta1923 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a debut novel with interesting characters and a somewhat rambling plot.Eliza Factor covers twenty-three years in the life of a community that depends on the mining of mercury and the forceful personality of a dominating man. The town of Pristina is Oliver Scraperton's dream come true: a place where mixed races live and work.There is a thin line between entrepreneur and exploiter. Scraperton breeches this line by controlling the sale of groceries and other necessities. An injured worker has neither salary or benefits and so cannot provide for himself and/or his family. The "benevolent founder" is a myth in Pristina. Incas called their mercury mine ¿la mina de los muertos.¿ Owen buys the community a mercury fountain ¿ a steel chalice holding a flowing display of the element. Dr. Badinoe, who knows mercury's hazards, puts his fingers into its stream. Was it a dangerous lure for children putting them at risk even before they were too young to go into the mines? As in real life family dynamics and economic reality alter circumstances. From its startling opening scenes to its poignant end the book is an interesting narrative.
claudiemae on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I RECEIVED THIS BOOK THROUGH"EARLY REVIEWERS,"AND I SAY THANK YOU. I thought this book had potential,and I stuck with the reading of it,but must admit,I was lost at times and could not make workable connections to the charactors.I liked the idea of a Utopian society and the subject of mercury mining and historical/geographical settings.All in all ,I will probably reread this book,before passing it on to another reader,another reader may find a more favorable slant on this story.As always ,I appreciate reading anything sent to me.
jenngv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So far, this has been an interesting book. The 6 year old is incredibly precocious, but maybe without tv and the time her parents take with her, it could be possible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
meldridge More than 1 year ago
I read this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I have to say that it is not a book I would have chosen on my own, but am glad that I got the opportunity to read it. It is interesting on a couple different levels. The surface story was okay although ended a little darker than I would have liked. As an example of the rise and fall of (fill in the blank) it was pretty good. It showed how great ideas while great are still subject to corruption and that the perfect world can not and will never exist forever. It is also a lesson on what happens when you become too narrow or focused on only certain aspects of your goal and fail to notice everything else going on around you. I liked both the writing style and the characters. I have to admit I would have liked it to last a little longer just to spend a little more time with Badinoe and Dolores. I would recommend this, but not as a easy read beach book.