Take a household name. Toss it up against the wall that barricades reality from fantasy (bricks by Perelman, mortar by Barthelme)--splat and voila: a Max Apple story. The White House cook on the morning of Nixon's farewell: ""The poor man hasn't moved his bowels yet. Without morning coffee, he is cement."" Comrade Fidel on American baseball stars imported from Cuba: ""Yes, we have no bananas but we got vine-ripened Latinos who play good ball all year."" Game-show host larry Love (read Monty Hall) eyeing his on-the-air assassin's gun: ""Go ahead if you must. . . in this business time is money."" Funny, icy stuff mostly, easy targets (TV quizmasters, Norman M., health-food nutsiness), the incongruity game played in the same alley with Celebrity Bowling. The episodes without guest stars suffer from character poverty--notions without enough flesh to wrap us up, situations caught with their hidden meanings overexposed. Apple is not a people person. He needs to lean on the mythic echoes of a pre-existing name, face, image--even if he risks a cheap-trickster label Twice the gamble pays off in gold: the title story (the oranging is old Howard Johnson's roofing effect) and a memoir by Sonny ""Mammy"" Williams, donut-frying ""nigger sidekick"" to an adolescent footballer named G. R. Ford. With powerhouse leading men to forge the vital reality-connections, Apple is free not only to develop his themes under adequate cover but also to create, in each of the tales, a man or woman Friday who is realer, richer, and more important than any myth-man. Modified rapture.