You really should read: The Financial Lives of the Poets; The Zero

Novelist Jess Walter has been weaving (award-winning) sharp, noir-ish, satirical tales like The Zero and Citizen Vince from his homebase in Spokane for more than a decade. This year he brings together the recession, newspapers and other everyday horrors in The Financial Lives of the Poets. Walters reads with Dan DeWeese, Zoe Trope and Flash Fiction contest winners part of the Wordstock-related event p:ear Noir. Trim/Vojdani Gallery at p:ear, 338 NW 6th Ave., 228-6677. 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 7. $35 ($25 with Wordstock pass).

What's your personal writing ritual?

Leap out of bed at 6 am, rifle pockets for witty notes jotted on cocktail napkins, have one (1) cup coffee, one (1) huge chocolate chip cookie, then go to desk, sit down, find the home keys, and make shit up.

What are your favorite themes to write about?

I work hard to not repeat myself, but I do seem to create a lot of white male characters roughly my age whose chief skill is dry humor in the face of catastrophe.

The most beautiful word in the English language is: Gin.

What authors made you want to pick up a pen in the first place?

Kurt Vonnegut made me want to be a writer; the most inspiring books I've read recently were David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Edward P. Jones' The Known World.

Fight Club time: If you could fight one author (or critic), who would it be and why?

Joyce Carol Oates. I love her work; I'm just pretty sure I could take her, that's all.

Name a book you think is highly overrated. Be honest.

In Cold Blood.

Dream project:

The Wire: The Next Generation.

Most recent nightmare:

The usual: talking coat rack, bubbling skin, birds staring at me.

Your cure for writer's block:

Set it aside and move on to the next thing. When in doubt, blame the work, not yourself.

Pessimistic question: Will you keep writing even after people stop reading?

Sure. I wrote for years before anyone read me so I can't imagine a little thing like total cultural illiteracy stopping me now.

Cautiously optimistic question: Obama? Discuss.

I still get misty-eyed—but like all giddy, confused Democrats, now I can't decide if I want him to be idealistic or effective.

Share one thing you've had to change in your everyday life thanks to our current recession.

This book tour does seem to feature an excessive number of airport Holiday Inns.

Please paste a short paragraph from a story, poem, article, blog post, etc., you're currently working on:

"In Vegas we stayed one step ahead of the wrecking ball."