Volume three of Dalkey's four collections of Schmidt's fiction contains 35 witty postmodernist tales, all written between 1955 and 1963. They're unconventional accounts of meetings that blossom, surrealistically, into confrontations--often between a harried writer and the garrulous eccentrics who keep interrupting him. Joyce and Laurence Sterne lurk behind these demanding metafictions, which feature ingenious compound words, outrageous puns, digressions, literary allusions, skewed syntax, and typography seemingly gone berserk. Schmidt (1914-79) will test any reader's endurance, but in such charming conflations as ""Cows in Half Mourning,"" which stands the rustic pastoral rudely on its head, or ""Caliban Upon Setebos,"" his dazzling reinterpretation of Shakespeare, he's as accessible as, say, Beckett or Ionesco. A marvelous writer, very much worth discovering.