The protagonists in the short stories of The Loneliest Road in America are men and women who have fled the familiar pathways of cities and towns for life in the wilderness. There is Massey, the marijuana farmer of ”Smoke,” who hides out in Trinity National Forest, painting the leaves of his crop so they look like flowers from the air. There is Gavin Dunlap of ”Ice the Color of Sky,” poet of the frozen North, who was mushing his dogs in Alaska when he got called back home to bury his older brother. Together they — along with the other misfits featured in the 11 pieces here — paint a portrait of the unknown and the unrecognized. They are not the dark underbelly of society but rather its fuzzy, ratty hindquarters, and they are sketched with an empathetic and unerring eye, as are their surroundings, the trees and land and tents of dropout society. If their stories lack urgency, it’s because their lives lack urgency, at least as it is normally defined: mortgages, careers, keeping up with the Joneses. Theirs is another world, and this collection a more than respectable entry point.