Stephan Lee
February 08, 2013 AT 05:00 AM EST

We Live in Water

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jess Walter
publisher
HarperPerennial Library
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

Walter’s recent best-seller, Beautiful Ruins — an elegant page-turner about the convergence of Old and New Hollywood — was the glamour novel of 2012, an attractive accessory that fit nicely in name-brand beach bags. The characters who populate this collection of short stories, We Live in Water, come from a different demographic: They’re largely the down-and-out regular guys who get hit hardest by tough economic times. But Walter isn’t as concerned with unifying themes as he is with small, funny, sad moments, such as a tired working stiff discovering that one of his kids has been stealing from the family change jar, or a drug dealer getting duped into doing a good deed that very much goes punished. One story takes place in a zombie apocalypse — but even that one brims with humanity. A-

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