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Jacob SilvermanThere's a rootless, metaphysically barren quality to Watson's characters, but their anguish cannot be called ennui. It's something less desperate, less urgent, and thereby more tragic, because it is so recognizably common. These people may be able to count their losses—a relationship doomed to perpetual argument; a jilted husband who can confide only in a gossipy old neighbor; sons who have made themselves strange and remote toward their parents—but they rarely wrestle with them, and they encounter the truth of their impoverished lives only in fleeting, painful moments. Yet we readers, conscious of all this, feel their pain more acutely, knowing these characters have made themselves more alone, aliens even to themselves, because they are incapable of honestly appraising their failures.
—The New York Times