Writers, it is true, often make lousy critics. But the intense egotism that makes writers sift everything they read through the nooks and crannies of their selves can also make them terrific readers. Writers may not be the most reliable arbiters of taste, but when they love something, they love it well. Hansen (Mariette in Ecstasy, 1991, etc.) and Shepard (Kiss of the Wolf, 1993, etc.) honor the difference between reading and criticism by keeping the introductions in this anthology brief. And while many writers pay homage to classics (e.g., Eudora Welty to Chekhov's ""Gooseberries,"" Mary Gordon to Joyce's ""The Dead,"" Allan Gurganus to Cheerer's ""Goodbye, My Brother""), the master/disciple dynamic takes some surprising forms, as when John Hawkes introduces his former student Mary Caponegro's ""The Star CafÃ‰."" A generous variety distinguishes these stories, which, refreshingly, are not lumped together according to the race, sexual preference, or gender of their authors, but simply by the love that individual readers have for them.