“I guess remembering is better than living,” muses a typical male protagonist from Jess Walter’s harrowing collection of 13 unlucky stories, “We Live in Water.” Looking back, we laugh at our misfortune. If we’re lucky.
In this particular tale, “Wheelbarrow Kings,” two bedraggled buddies are carting a TV to a pawn shop for cash, which they hope to convert into food and methamphetamine. How their narrative ends, as in many of these stories, feels both inevitable and appropriately predictable. We see their ruination coming. That’s the point.