Throughout these handsomely crafted short stories, Powers, who hasn't been heard from since his only novel (Morte D'Urban) appeared in 1963, uses a lasar beam on some contemporary tragicomic incongruities at a time when institutions and individuals seem to be shriveling at the roots. There's Father Bill, remnant of pre-Vatican II hierarchical civilities, who cannot deal with Chancery ""games"" and hopes he will discover the name of his new, irritating curate sooner or later--perhaps someone will tell him. Then there's the comfortable Bishop who dislikes excess, enjoys an organ version of ""Trees"" at his favorite restaurant, and is handily eased from his post by a soothing protege who says ""Gee!"" in flattering responses. In ""One of Them,"" a priest, converted from Protestantism, is determined to fall obediently into step with his monosyllabic pastor (who addresses envelopes for extra income) but even after guarding his pastor's room from the incursion of a former irate curate, the convert finds he is still not trusted. Father Bill reappears, hoping to stabilize via ""priestly fellowship"" a gaggle of young priests who are awash in the euphoria of the ""new"" Catholicism--and depressingly fascinated by a seminary drop-out. And the good Bishop, deposed, happily returns to pastoral rounds while his superior comes to grips with a Message from the Virgin as received by a hearty bus driver's wife: ""Keep Minnesota Green."" The title story, two brief savage items concerning partner swapping and the idiocy of a cold war in outer space, and the last story of a family on the move, all underscore the doomed drift of people and old familiar places--making their orderly exits like fish in an unfathomable sea.