Five stars. With a bullet. And a syringe. And some helpless, hopeless wailing.I met Walter at ALA and he signed his book for me. To tell the stark truth, I was wandering around, saw him signing books in the Harper Collins booth and thought, "Hey, that's a short line...", and even though I'd never heard of him, I bellied up to the free book bar. By such small cusps one's life may change. As Donne said, comparisons are odious. But there was a name that kept ringing in my head as I read these stories. Walter puts me in mind of Raymond Carver in all the ways that matter. His people are my people, the ones I grew up with, the ones I ran away from, the ones I turned into. There are no winners here, no rescuers, no happy endings. There's only today, and tomorrow, which will be like today only maybe worse. The same, if you're lucky. A lot worse, more likely. There's humor here, smoky and reeling, but still funny as hell. I can't recommend these stories highly enough. I want to read every word this man has ever written, but I can't do it all at once because I'm pretty sure if I did I'd crawl in my coat closet and huddle there till I died.