Ten generally engaging stories from Midwestern writer Rindo (Suburban Metaphysics, 1990), cleverly satirizing the truths and illusions we hold dear while portraying individual Americans with compassion and humor. In the tragic yet hilarious ""The Blue Heron,"" an unhinged widower collects exotic pets and winds up with 37, plus one blue heron. His son finally calls in the animal welfare people, but realizes, when his father locks himself indoors and shoots at the raiders' cars, that the old man has become ""Noah the terrorist in his land-locked ark,"" all in the name of lost love. The ironic ""Ten Things I've Heard That I Believe"" shows a college professor of American folklore becoming a legend himself by confessing in class that he has cancer, shacking up with three women students, and wearing a bandanna to hide the effects of chemotherapy and an earring ""to complete the look."" When you have cancer you can do anything, he reasons, yet discovers his that ""lifetime of scrupulous observation"" hasn't prepared him for death. One of Rindo's funniest tales, ""Taxidermy and Infidelities,"" involves a son and father who meet for a reconciliatory picnic at their mother/wife's grave on the eve of Dad's fifth marriage. Though angry at his irresponsible behavior towards his children, the son comes to marvel at his passionate love of life, most memorably expressed in his relationship with wife number four, a taxidermist who ravished him while he was strapped naked to the roof of a car. Some stories, like ""Aliens,"" reflect the author's ability to handle a variety of narrative voices. Others, including ""Women in the Woods,"" provide suspense but end on frustratingly ambiguous notes. Nevertheless, Rindo has a knack for describing the absurd details that give lives meaning. Freakish, darkly comic, and utterly contemporary.