In most of the 11 stories of Udall's gritty debut, narrators reconstruct the genesis of their current woes and seize-or at least seek-control of their lives in moments of decisive, often dramatic action. In ""Midnight Raid,"" a man's late-night visit to his ex-wife's new house a year after their divorce culminates in a confrontation with his former spouse and her new husband in which the narrator's desperate attempt to avenge his suffering and assuage his loss of love is both funny and achingly sad. In the title story (the only one that isn't a first-person narrative), a husband returns home after months hunting in the mountains to find that his wife has abandoned him. Recalling these recent events whips him into a rage and provokes even more outrageous actions. Some stories do falter: the disastrous road trip of ""The Opposite of Loneliness"" ends with the hodgepodge cast too neatly united; in ""Junk Court,"" a young man's desire to connect himself to the world plays itself out in a forced, disingenuous relationship with a disabled woman. Most of the time, however, Udall articulates the sorrow and humor of his characters' situations so well that their bellowing displays of bravado do provide a catharsis of sorts. Udall clearly understands the truth abut punching walls: it won't make problems go away, but it sometimes feels awfully good. Author tour. (Jan.) FYI: Udall, whose stories have appeared in GQ, the Paris Review, Playboy and Story, is a James Michener Fellow.