Book Review: We Live in Water by Jess Walter


Rating: 4 / 5

We Live in Water is a collection of short stories, focusing on men battling various challenges, whether it be addiction, relationships ending, parental setbacks, or professional failures.  In general I’m not a fan of short stories because, well, they’re too short; I’ve always felt that I could never get entrenched and lost in a short story or its characters, but We Live In Water has proven me wrong.  The funny thing about Walter’s short stories are that many times the main character is not likable.  This ends up working very well for short stories because its fascinating to look at a snippet of a person’s life, but if the character is unlikable, it would be difficult to make him the center character in a novel.  I’m mainly talking about “Virgo” in which the main character is a features editor of a local newspaper, and uses his position to alter horoscopes to taunt and attempt to communicate with his ex-girlfriend. 

While the stories are solid, I have to say that “Virgo” and “Helpless Little Things” were my favorites.  Walter has an amazing ability to pack a punch in a few short pages.  His stories and characters are edgy, and the ending to the majority of stories were surprising.  We Live in Water might forever change the way I view short stories, it is just that good.  And if you haven’t read anything by Jess Walters, you need to correct that injustice now.  If you have, then expect We Live in Water to live up to Walter’s storytelling talents.

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