Fair-to-middling stories originally published in The New Yorker. When Trow is being serious--as in the title story here (about two brothers, Sal and Frank Margineaux, builders of what amounts to negative space in a gone-to-seed city) or in the even more fantastical Alani Beach stories (a wreck of a seaside resort)--his apocalyptic stance, his pace, and even his prose rhythms are flagrantly indebted to the brittle absurdism of Donald Barthelme at his less than best. Trow is better when he's at his lightest and shortest (at any length over five pages, he becomes interminable). So the strongest stuff here is a spoof of nostalgia commercials (""Remember when you remembered the '60s? Well, it's all back. The good times when you remembered the good times"") and a parodied trendy-interview with the ultimate in vapid celebrityhood. (""'I am so preoccupied with my children,' she says. 'Almost overly so.' She describes one of her children as 'very short,' and the other as 'somewhat larger.' I ask which child it was that appeared at the door. 'That one looked very small,' she says."") As for the rest, it's mostly satire on such ephemera as the corruptions of rock critics or the depredations of a Haywire-like movie-daughter; Trow's sensibility is basically media-oriented--a sensibility of a sensibility--which means that the choices it allows itself are impatient and only two in number: either it recognizes and deflates or it sulks. True, there's an audience for this sort of push-button comedy, but it's an audience that will have moved on to some other trendy recognitions a year from now. So hard-cover compilation only emphasizes the limitations of Trow's with-it, schematic, and arch frolics.