Here is beauty with a shiver in it: four elegant, eerie stories from Dickinson (Chuck and Danielle, 1996, etc.). In ""The Spring,"" a turnabout and darkling version of It's a Wonderful Life, a boy discovers what life would be like if he had a twin, and gets a glimpse of the world had he never been born. In ""Touch and Go,"" a garrulous but engaging codger tells a tale of slipping through time and space. In ""Checkers,"" a chilling tale of kidnapping taken from today's headlines turns into an oddly reassuring ghost story. The longest tale, which gives the book its title, mixes circus tales and the doppelgÃ£nger archetype in ways not entirely satisfying; with its appealing characters, it will still find fans among those who see its supernatural elements as contrived. Regardless, Dickinson is a stylist par excellence: His limpid prose carries these stories through strange territory.