These are tough stories. They are mostly about men who are in trouble. They are bad fathers and we sometimes their own “role models.” There is at least moment of decency. A father, in an unlikely only in an action movie move, escapes those intent on causing him harm and manages to hide. Only then does he remember that he’s left his son in his car. He decides to return and put himself in harm’s way.

Walter plays on this father-son theme for a while, but things take an odd turn with the story, “Don’t Eat Cat,” and I wondered whether I’d even finish the collection. I’m glad I stuck with it, though. “Statistical Abstract for My Hometown of Spokane, Washington” is brilliant, both in form and content.

Walter, together with Sherman Alexie, make Washington State seem like a really dreary place to live.