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Extended Audio Sample We Live in Water, by Jess Walter Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (580 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jess Walter Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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We Live in Water, the first collection of short fiction from New York Times bestselling author Jess Walter, is a suite of diverse, often comic stories about personal struggle and diminished dreams, all of them marked by the wry wit and generosity of spirit that has made him one of our most talked-about writers. Darkly comic, We Live in Water is a moving collection of stories, published over the last five years in Harper’s, McSweeney’sThe Best American Short Stories, The Best American Non-Required Reading, Byliner, Playboy, and elsewhere. The stories veer from comic tales of love to social satire to suspenseful crime fiction, from hip Portland to once-hip Seattle to never-hip Spokane, from a condemned casino in Las Vegas to a bottomless lake in the dark woods of Idaho. This is a world of lost fathers and redemptive con-men, of meth tweakers on desperate odysseys and men committing suicide by fishing.

In “Thief,” a blue-collar worker turns unlikely detective to find out which of his kids is stealing from the family vacation fund. In “We Live in Water,” a lawyer returns to a corrupt North Idaho town to find the father who disappeared thirty years earlier. In “Anything Helps,” a homeless man has to “go to cardboard” to raise enough money to buy his son the new Harry Potter book. In “Virgo,” a local newspaper editor tries to get back at his superstitious ex-girlfriend by screwing with her horoscope. And the collection’s final story transforms slyly from a portrait of Walter’s hometown into a moving contemplation of our times.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brims with humanity.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “…gritty, pitch-perfect collection…Walter wrings enlightenment from dark realities.”

    People

  • “[A] badass collection…gritty, big-hearted.”

    Esquire

  • “Although he is best known as a novelist who writes of knockabout characters in dead-end situations, Mr. Walter brings that outlook to short-story writing easily, and with a vengeance.”

    New York Times

  • “Walter’s got a great ear and a genius for sympathy with America’s new dispossessed.”

    NPR’s All Things Considered

  • “It is perhaps a grim and fatalistic vision that Jess Walter presents in We Live in Water, yet one that in today’s America seems all-too-recognizable; no, we may not all live in water, but at one time or another, we have all lived in Spokane.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Deliver[s] unexpected laughs while playing with what it is we think we know…As a reader, I delight in Walter’s work. As a writer (humor me here), I curse. He’s so freakishly, fiendishly good, it isn’t fair.”

    Seattle Times

  • “With a cineaste’s eye, [Walter] mov[es] the action at a terrific pace, such velocity and narrative swing…What he makes us understand is bracing, clear. Fiction or no, it is here we see Walter as trusted interlocutor, saying, let me show you, this is where we are now.”

    Oregonian

  • “Each word is perfectly placed…Walter’s semiserious ode, ‘Statistical Abstract for my Hometown of Spokane, Washington’…brings his first story collection to a smashing end.”

    Daily Beast

  • “The debut story collection from Walter proves he’s as skilled at satire and class commentary in the short form as in his novels…Walter’s prose is straightforward and funny…A witty and sobering snapshot of recession-era America.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Walter writes—beautifully—about hard luck divorced dads, addicts, con artists, working men trying to keep things together, and a few zombies who’ve made the Seattle of the future look a lot like the Spokane of the present…Darkly funny, sneakily sad, these stories are very, very good. You know the way websites recommend books by saying if you liked this, you’ll like that? The algorithm for this debut collection is straightforward: if you like to read, you’ll like this book.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “With a signature blend of wicked humor and heartbreaking tenderness, Walter’s intense stories speak directly to the contemporary American experience…Wildly entertaining and thought-provoking fiction from a prodigiously talented writer.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • Selected for the March 2013 Indie Next List
  • Finalist for the 2014 Audie Award for Best Short Stories/Collections Narration

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Alan | 2/16/2014

    " Great! I really enjoyed these funny, off-beat and touching stories. His eye for the everyday and absurd is hilarious. From Zombies working at Starbucks, trained not to eat cat, adult men pedalling kid's Bmx bikes, their knees up above their ears, to a man who believes one of his kids, "the girl", "little", or "middle" is a thief. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Pamela Ferguson | 2/15/2014

    " A collection of short stories (any which could be expanded to an entire book) that deal with people with major challenges - homelessness, drink and drug issues, troubles with the law! An interesting and fast read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Lincoln | 2/10/2014

    " It's a sometimes funny sometimes poignant collection of stories. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Brittany Wilmes | 2/6/2014

    " Fantastic collection of gritty short stories by the multi-talented Jess Walter. The title story was heartbreaking. Walter is a modern Raymond Carver in this collection. These stories are on the opposite end of the spectrum from his bestselling Beautiful Ruins, but still moving, unsentimental, profound. His male characters (women hardly appear on these pages) are rough and accepting and resigned. They'll tug at you long after you've closed the book (which ends with the stellar Statistical Abstract for My Hometown, Spokane, Washington). "

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About the Author
Author Jess Walter

Jess Walter is the author of the novels The Zero, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Award, and Citizen Vince, winner of the 2005 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. He has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the PEN USA Literary Prize in both fiction and nonfiction. His books have been New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR best books of the year and have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in Spokane, Washington.