Barbara Fast may lack a sureness and subtlety with concepts (""Intimacy is a mutual sharing of inner feelings and private emotions""), but she is more capable than most of defining and delineating through examples. Because she has an eye for people and an ear for undercurrents in dialogue, her book is a compendium of stories that break through the usual barriers to believability. Even when discussing ""types"" (""Mr. Cool and the Little Woman,"" for example), she manages to draw on the people next door. One husband slapped a ""band-aid"" over his wife's anxieties by dismissing her chronic fatigue (""so stay in bed""); Fast's response would utilize paraphrasing to indicate sensitive listening, empathy, and encouragement toward openness. As a theoretical framework for the portraits, intimacy is seen to reside in such areas as touch, positive communication, overcoming defenses from childhood, and honest expression of anger. Some limitations: intimacy is considered largely in the context of sexual relationships; there is some flailing about with gratuitous jargon (""ECP--Extra Communication Perception""); and when all's said, the book adds little to the storehouse of popular quasi-knowledge. But Fast's exhortations to risk the dangers of intimacy--whether in marriage, with those at work, or with the dying--carry some power to convince because they are backed by recognizable situations.