Rothberg's appealingly strange first story here, ""The Red Dress""--after work two women go to an office where a spooky old woman sells dresses at low prices--seems to promise a collection with a certain minor-key mystery, a Hawthorne-ish sense of a world gone slightly askew. Unfortunately, however, the approach in all the other stories turns out to be thoroughly straightforward, even a bit dull. A college teacher finds he has both a concentration-camp survivor and a former Nazi soldier in his class. A youngish lawyer, father and husband, slowly recovers from heart disease. A party thrown by Polish friends on Long Island for a visiting novelist from Poland turns drunken, passionate, sad. A disfigured WW II American soldier yearns to recover a portrait of himself that was painted in Rome before his wounding. Only one story, in fact, generates some genuine drama: ""The Sand Dunes,"" in which a childless couple feels out the urge to adopt, but becomes confused and hurt by a rebellious boy. Everything else here, sadly, is all too predictably sensitive and message-y: a well-intentioned but pallid volume.