This very fine collection of short stories disobeys every one of the recipes concocted by the scullery maids of saleable fiction and the engineers who reduce plot structure to bell-shaped curves. Mr. Windham's stories are uncluttered. His narratives read as unobtrusively as Roald Dahl's. Yet the themes are the most significant of all -- communication, love, and compassion. Paulo, a poignant and superbly flawless story, will be the most talked about of the fourteen. It is the story of an Italian- American boy, who marries a Protestant girl, and his abortive attempt to Americanize himself completely. He speaks only English; his home is stripped bare of ikon, but tragedy sends him back to his mother's house with the lament: ""Mama, mama, che ha fatto della sua vita tuo figlio?"", (""What have I, your son, done with his life?""). Paulo is no less than a classic prose piece. Single Harvest is a skillfully drawn tale of money coming between friends and in The Third Bridge Windham proves that decadence can be described without treading the usual biological paths. Throughout the only obstacle course which Mr. Windham has his creations run is the least tortuous but most difficult natural gap between two functioning organisms. Again, Paulo alone is worth the price of the volume.