Patrick White, Thomas Keneally, Jessica Anderson: connoisseurs of fine prose in English have found Australia a surprising (and too rarely acknowledged) heaven, with these three especially standing as some of the finest stylists alive. Anderson (Tirra Lirra by the River, The Only Daughter) may be the most interesting writer about family complexity since Ivy Compton-Burnett, and one of the best sentence-makers since Elizabeth Bowen. Here, in stories--some autobiographical, dealing with a suburban childhood; some whose theme is late divorce, by men and women with already married children--all the small defeats and humiliations and longings and useless decorums of relatedness are put into motion. When in ""Outdoor Friends"" (about a divorcing man in love with his daughter's mother-in-law), the man finds his own octogenarian mother considering marriage to a geezer in his 90s, all his feelings of self-pity and condescending isolation become useless, vestigial: never in a family is an upper-hand (or hitting-bottom) final. In suburban stories such ""Against The Wall,"" a young girl's year of home lessons (she stutters, and school is interrupted on that account) exposes her to the delicious boredom--yet terror--of seeing what one's parents' lives are like 24 hours of the day. Anderson's stories, like her novels, thrive on ill-matched incident and polar personalties, and are always just inches away from a chaos that only a major artist would know how to skirt so impressively.