In this gathering of largely familiar stories from Esquire, only a few items are commanding classics of the genre: Isaac Bashevis Singer's ""The Spinoza of Market Street""; Flannery O'Connor's ""Parker's Back""; Stanley Elkin's ""I Look Out for Ed Wolfe""; Harold Brodkey's ""His Son, In His Arms, In Light, Aloft."" Yet, apart from these standouts of excellence, much here is still of keen interest. A James Jones story from 1951 uncannily reminds one of many Raymond Carver stories from the late Seventies. Arthur Miller's short story, ""The Misfits,"" supplies the armature on which the much finer film version was constructed. John Barth's ""The Remobilization of Jacob Horner"" is an early bud of his particular brand of relentless fiction. And while the Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Cheerer, Updike, and Malamud entries are minor samples, some of the lesser-knowns have strong voices: T. Coraghessan Boyle's hilarious Lassie send-up, ""Heart of a Champion""; Richard Ford's gritty ""Rock Springs""; Joy Williams' sorrowing ""The Lover."" Even with much of this short fiction available elsewhere, then: an impressive gathering of the wonderful and the solid--and if most of the stories and novel-excerpts are more dated than you might expect (those four classics excepted), that in itself offers a curious sense of era. . . and food for thought about the magazine's particular tastes in fiction.