Everyone gets to die. Not everyone gets to find love first.
Some people don’t even get to look.
This novel is about a moody fellow who got to do all three. His name was Moody Fellow.
Moody looked for love for a long time before he found it. He looked in some, not all, of the wrong places and in quite a few of the wrong ways. It didn’t make things any easier that, from the beginning of his search to the short-lived sweetness that marked its end, he was a terribly—and we do mean awfully—moody fellow.
But enough ado. Let us begin at the beginning.
-Excerpt from A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies.
Late Night Library: Summarize your book in 10 words or fewer.
Douglas Watson: There’s this moody fellow who finds love and then dies.
LNL: If this book were the lovechild of two others, who are its parents?
DW: I think DNA tests will reveal that something untoward happened between Italo Calvino’s Mr. Palomar and George Saunders’ Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil.
LNL: What ingredients go into the recipe of your writing style?
DW: First, you gotta love writing sentences. Second, you must be a committed absurdist—that is, to use the Merriam-Webster’s definition, one who believes “that the universe is irrational and meaningless and that the search for order brings the individual into conflict with the universe.” Third, you have to want to look for meaning anyway, or at least you have to want to write about characters who have that desire, which may itself mean something, although probably not. Fourth, you want to make people laugh. And (fifth) cry, but not too much, because that’s upsetting. Sixth, you don’t really have that much to say, which is one reason everything you write is so short. But, seventh, you also don’t have anything better to do, so you keep writing. Eighth…
LNL: Name one book you wish you could read again for the first time.
DW: Lewis Nordan’s Music of the Swamp. Discovering Nordan is like falling in love for the first time, but it’s safer, because ink and paper are safer than other people. Nordan is a national treasure, and too many book lovers have never heard of him. I suppose his novel Wolf Whistle, which somehow spins delight and beauty as well as darkness and emptiness from the story of the Emmett Till murder, would have to be considered his masterpiece. But Music of the Swamp was my road into Nordan Land. What a cheesy way to put it. Geez. Anyway, there’s a story in Music—which is really a collection of stories even though it’s labeled a novel—that is probably my all-time favorite story. It’s called “Porpoises and Romance.” In it, a middle-aged, alcoholic housepainter takes his wife to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast for a second honeymoon. The wife agrees to this scheme on condition that they take their twelve-year-old son with them. Of course, the story is narrated by the son, looking back from years later. It’s a magical story. Everyone should stop reading this Q&A right now and go read “Porpoises and Romance.”
LNL: Answer a question you wish people would ask you about writing.
DW: I feel that people might want to ask: Wait a minute—do you have any idea what you’re doing? To which all I can say is, Hell, no.
Get a copy of A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies at IndieBound.
Douglas Watson is the author of a book of stories, The Era of Not Quite, winner of the BOA Editions Short Fiction Prize. His first novel, A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies, is out April 1 from Outpost19. He lives in New York City.