Casualty, The Violent Wedding, etc. precede this collection of short stories and will have prepared the audience which has endured and survived the ravaged despair of the earlier books for its continuation here. Lowry's characters are not only spiritually dispossessed but their inanition is momentarily eased by acts of sick and savage retaliation; a cat is shredded and flushed down a toilet; a baby is seasoned and set to roast in an oven; etc. The title story, a war story, is one of several which features the boredom and aimlessness of war in terms of the average soldier. Civilian life is to offer little more. The Victim deals with a homosexual prostitute and is a frightening demonstration of depravity; decent people are also betrayed into shabby situations-and a nineteen year old girl's abortion is the terminal result of a love affair. All the experiences of our time are reduced to a common denominator of personal and ideological annihilation for which there is no saving grace- only the catharsis of brutality. Lowry writes powerfully; it is the perspective one may question.