This is a collection of eleven short stories written in a style variously sharp and ambiguous -- mod pieces -- characterized by a high degree of a discernment and penetration. The characters are aware, wary people confronted by experiences which become moments of realization and which, for the most part, leave them desolate, estranged, crushed by situations in which their guard was down. There is desperation which breaks through a facade of polite but strained exchange; a polished, elegant young woman whose meeting with a child disarms her; a vague character's searching in his dreams -- which are indistinct from his own ethereal existence; the pervasive dreariness of a rainy day in Paris; the destruction of a delicate, fragile creature in a conflict of wills; a woman's discovery of herself through loss and alienation; and the curiously inverted manner of telling in the superior title story in which the author describes her own story while maintaining the fictional stance. An offering of high merit in which the predominant fault is an imbalance of sensibilities: a surfeit of perceptions. Sylvia Berkman teaches creative writing at Wellesley College, has been published in Harper's Bazaar, Botteghe Oscure and Vogue.