A clutch of connected short stories focusing--in a dense, ornate way--on the neurotic coming of age of one Anne Marie Kane, good Catholic girl from Providence, Rhode Island. After an all-star girlhood at St. Edward's High, Anne Marie heads off for Christ College in Massachusetts in 1971, and finds herself fat, lonely, and too smart for her boy-chasing classmates. A transfer to Radcliffe helps--there, Anne can be depressed and neurotic right up there with the best of them. She takes pre-reed courses, has boyfriends, and seems to be waiting for an identity to be imprinted on her, perhaps by her two overachiever roommates, Alex and Jill, both budding doctors. After graduation, Anne becomes a mental-health instructor and marries a shiftless, unemployed, vaguely arty fellow named Frazier. The marriage is unhappy; at book's end, Anne Marie is apparently running away. An old-hat story of Irish-Catholic guilt and pain, which McGarry (Airs of Providence, 1985) delivers in an often onerously complex manner: ""The social worker, Mary Malone, a fat woman with big full dresses and small boots, a face that never moved but delicate hands that traced a script under all her toneless words, had these hands in leather gloves, very thin, and curled around the steering wheel of the brand-new car, green, with no radio and no heater because Mary Mallon, she said to Miss Kane, didn't need one, she was warm all the time.