The Journal is calling Douglas Watson "a very smart writer," in a review of his new fiction collection The Era of Not Quite. "What it means to live in the Era of Not Quite is to reach for a thing, and not quite seize it. And then to keep reaching," says reviewer Elizabeth Zaleski. "Watson’s thoughts on this tension illustrate his sensibility as a writer..." The review places the new collection in a literary world where readers are made to question the very nature of writing, to the wires and seams: "The Era of Not Quite is a stunning example of Barthes’ notion of the 'writerly text,' a text that challenges the reader by constantly calling attention to its constructed nature (think Borges’ 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius')." In this literary world, Watson is the trickster: "Some of the greatest pleasures of Watson's collection are the jokes he plays on the reader ... everything in the collection is in tension with its opposite—especially play and sincerity ... This is because for Watson, the smart stuff isn’t about technical or philosophical bravado—it’s about fun. When I asked him about maintaining this tricky balance in his work, he called in an answer from Playland: 'Well, the best way to strike a balance is to stand on two feet. If you stand on just the play foot, you’ll fall over into Playland. And if you stand on just the sincerity foot, you’ll tip over and be completely lost in Sincerityland, which is an even worse place to be than Playland, believe me.'" On a note of sincerity, Watson also discusses the passing of his mother during the creation of the The Era of Not Quite, as it impacted his writing: "'I was confronting death and loss and grief for the first time—I mean in a big way, in my immediate family. So I didn’t have patience for the small stuff. You know: ‘Bill drank a glass of milk. It made him think of milk paint. He’d been wanting to change the color of his living-room walls, but the question was, Which color was the right one?’ What I would say to Bill is, Who cares? Don’t you know you’re going to die? Get outside and get some exercise or something.'" "...like his character Jacob Livesey ... Watson’s best stuff 'evoke[s] the twin longings that t[ear], although not asunder, the inner lives of many of his contemporaries: the desire for repetition' (that’s 'heart,' the stuff you nod over, weeping) 'and the hunger for something—anything—new' (and that’s play). Enjoy." Click here to read the entire review from The Journal. The Era of Not Quite is available at the BOA Bookstore.
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