As usual, a sharp-eyed record of human flaws from Gordimer (My Son's Story, 1990, etc.) in this, her latest collection of short fiction. Gordimer, whose eye for detail and nose for current pathologies is as keen and cold as a clinician's, is, here, less thematically coherent and less politically certain. The stories, with few exceptions, are mostly about the interregnum that is now South Africa. Some--like ""The Moment Before the Gun Went Off,"" in which a white farmer accidentally kills his beloved but unacknowledged black son, and ""What Were You Dreaming?,""in which white liberals encounter a derelict black alcoholic--are reworkings of by-now too-familiar themes. In the title story, a young Portuguese man sits in a hotel room in Mozambique remembering. Born in Mozambique, he had joined the counterrevolution but was sickened by the sight of black refugees--the victims of his side's policies--yet cannot forget the terrible things he has seen: ""...the orphaned children running in packs round the rubbish dumps, the men without ears and the women with a stump where there was an arm."" In ""Comrades,"" a liberal white woman brings some young blacks to her house for a meal but realizes as she talks to them that nothing else but hunger is real. Perhaps the most horrifying story is ""Once Upon a Time,"" which begins as a children's story but soon becomes a disturbing morality tale about the inevitability of horrific death for a white South African family trying to shut out the terrifying world with more and more walls and gadgets. Once again, vintage Gordimer--as always intelligent, if a little too cool-eyed and restrained in the telling.