A gathering of 17 accomplished stories, written over the past 30 years by some of Czechoslovakia's major modern writers. Political instability and oppression under Communist rule are prominent foreground presences, though--as in much of classic and contemporary Czech writing--comic surrealism is clearly the preferred literary method. There are funny contributions from such famed authors as Bohumil Hrabal, JirÂ¡ Grusa, and Josef Skvorecky, and two gems: the late Ladislav Fuks's lyrical portrait of a dreamy boy imagining his escape from his imprisoning country (""Kchony Sees the World""), and especially Ivan Klima's ""Tuesday Morning: A Sentimental Comedy,"" a heartfelt and hilarious account of a dissident writer's efforts to remain his own man, and even conduct a love affair, while living under suspicion and surveillance. His advice to himself might stand as a motto for all Czech writing: ""You have a choice: either you set fire to yourself, or you make fun of it all."" A delightful and exhilarating collection.