From an impressive list of contributors, Mazer (The Last Mission, 1979) gathers a dozen short stories. Walter Dean Myers's tale of a simple glance between strangers on the subway that leads to violence is chilling in its authenticity, especially in the voice of the narrator, a young bike messenger. The opening image in Frederick Busch's story--of Pete, a young boy, holding the barrel of a .38 in his mouth as he contemplates suicide--is riveting, as is the story that follows: In the wake of his parents' divorce, Pete is so alienated that oblivion seems preferable to beginning a new life with his father in a strange town. By placing the gun in a familiar domestic setting, Busch succeeds in making its violent effects more palpable. Nancy Springer presents a young woman living with her father, a gunsmith, following the murder of her mother: Although Cassidy is terrified of guns, she endures the sharpshooting lessons her father provides, and in an ironic twist, it is through the use of a gun that she finds her heart and her courage again. Such searing tales are mercifully offset with lighter entries, e.g, Richard Peck's re-creation of some sawed-off shotgun shenanigans around a backwoods burial packs a load of belly laughs, while Kevin McColley's piece about a bicycle-riding bear pedaling away from a hunter to safety is heartwarming Mazer ends with a sobering list of statistics and sources of more information.