The author's penchant for attracting critical acclaim because of his stylistic elegance, if not for spurring cash register activity, may be buoyed by this collection of fables, radiant with a tender, gentle view of human tragedy and strengths. Contemporary fables are often unusually tiresome, working busily as they do the mother lode of wretched folk characters--a beloved (or unbeloved) King of the Country; always a woodcutter; dim witted Old Women who Live Alone, and garrulous animals. Fortunately in these tales, not only are we spared articulation by non-human forms (with the exception of some discerning plants and a solemn bird), but also the characters' abstract outlines are shaded entertainingly with sprightly dialogue and activity. One is easily lured to follow the Old Woman as she winds up her affairs and traces a heretofore ignored stream to its source and a happy, translucent death; the slovenly King who orders a marble clock built (to withstand time); the woman whose mystic gift for talking plants into luxuriant growth illuminates for her the meaning of motherhood; a glimpse of infinity by the sea that snaps shut at the end of a vacation: tales of joy and innocence swallowed up in an uncaring world--these are winning and disturbing vignettes, sometimes heartbreaking in their obvious application to universals of the human condition. A special taste, perhaps more easily acquired through familiarity with the author's name.