The Missouri Review (online) has featured Douglas Watson's "Against Specificity," the first story in his new collection The Era of Not Quite, for National Short Story Month. Reviewer Kyle Minor says the story is "among the most extraordinary stories [he's] ever read." Watson is the winner of the inaugural BOA Short Fiction Prize and works for Time magazine. The story's opening line is remarkable, "a distillation of general Americanness... the bare bones set-up that fuels 90% of all American fiction." The trouble: You want Thing A but are stuck with Thing B. According to Minor, Watson flouts fiction-writing standards in this story (concrete, specific), in favor of the generic, abstract, and obscure, as with Things A, B, and C. And the story is all the better for it. "...he ignores in the way that is almost always the most generative of something new: He pushes against the good advice as hard and as far in the opposite direction as he can, until what would otherwise be ill-advised becomes better than what could possibly have been merely good." The story is compared with the "thought experiment David Foster Wallace offered in his paired half-stories titled 'Adult World.'" "Watson lards his metaphors with specifics... The longed-for Thing A 'shines like a gold tooth in the mouth of Jesus,' and if 'joy itself were sugar maple, Thing A would be the syrup joy gave... By time the reader gets to the story’s ending, the reader might feel indicted... and who among us hasn’t been burdened with this trouble of being stuck with Thing B but wanting Thing A, fighting hard to get Thing A, offloading Thing B, and then living with the trouble of not knowing whether it was the right thing to offload Thing B for Thing A?" The story's final line? There is no one to help you decide. Read the full review. The Era of Not Quite is now available at the BOA bookstore. Another story from the collection, "When the World Broke," is now available for free on the Bookslinger app. Download the app from the iTunes/app store and receive a new short story (again, free!) each week. To learn more about Douglas Watson, visit his website.
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