Winner of the British (Somerset Maugham) literary award, this collection of eight short stories- although a first- introduces an already assured and subtle stylist an adult, uncompromising character commentary on both young and old. For- as sub-titled these stories are designed to contrast innocence and experience, good and evil, and children- who held the center of interest-are as often perpetrators as victims of forces. As in the title story, there is Richard, his heeded hatred of the adult world his revenge as he gulls the drab, middle-aged woman in love with his schoolmaster. And there is Haidee, whose desertion by her mother is to be paralleled many years later her own children abandon her; the orphaned, simple-minded Tassie whose only happy experience is provided by a felon; and- most movingly- The Iconoclasts- in which a deferential, reverential small boy witnesses- but does not understand- the death of an -child in an act of bravade... There is little pity here, but- if restrained- considerable terror and tragedy, and a precision of observation and treatment which qualify this collection for a critical, fastidious audience.