More renowned in Europe than here, the work of fantasist/journalist Dine Buzzati either translates imperfectly--or else translator and editor Venuti's assessment of Buzzati (1906-1972) as ""one of the most humane storytellers of our time"" is a considerable overstatement. The early tales here are all intriguingly wrinkled: the Kafka-cloned ""The Walls of Anagoor""; the journalistic cynicism of ""Appointment with Einstein"" and ""Human Greatness""; ""The Saucer Has Landed,"" with its strong Catholic tinge. (""It's better to be pigs like us, after all, greedy, vile, liars, than the foremost members of the group that never goes against its word. What satisfaction could God get from such people? And what meaning does life have if there is no evil, and remorse, and weeping?'"") But few of these pieces have the startling impact of the best metaphysical fables. And only a handful of the later stories are truly outstanding: two fables of the writer's life; and ""The Count's Wife,"" another theological entry--in which angelic forces are seen to be dependent on the satanic for harmony. Overall, Buzzati seems to have had the ability to raise provocative questions but not the art to exploit them; like other second-rank Italian avant-garde writings, these stories have the air of homilies left as shrugs. Interesting work--no more, no less.