Nine short stories from an author (Baby Be-Bop, 1995, etc.) with a gift for creating warmly human characters with wildly unconventional exteriors. Ranging from ""Orpheus,"" a fragmentary mood piece, to ""Dragons in Manhattan,"" a novel in every aspect but length, the stories feature young women in wide varieties of friendships and family structures: ""Tweetie Sweet Pea,"" not long out of toddlerdom, is already wiser about life and change than her parents naively suppose; a ""Blue"" imaginary companion helps La grieve when her mother commits suicide; Tuck Budd, raised by two women, discovers after a long quest that her father is nearer than she thought. Desiree finds timelessly intense summer romance in ""The Canyon""; for 11 of their 17 years, ""Pixie and Pony"" enjoy a relationship closer than best friends; Emily (a.k.a. lady ivory) and Anna (alabaster duchess) disappointedly report in their magazine ""Girl Goddess #9,"" that rock star Nick Agate, ""goateed angel. . . wild demon boy . . . priest of our heart-temple,"" is taken. As with Block's novels, these small dazzlers explore enduring values and provide a diverting take on facets of contemporary teen culture.