Adams' stories--familiar to perusers of The New Yorker or recent O. Henry Award collections--are very shapely, but they're usually cinched so tight that there's hardly any way in for the reader's sloppiest but most crucial response: an emotional one. Almost all of these 16 pieces revolve around San Franciscans who've either lived previously in the South or go there to stir up or calm down personal crises. Alcoholism is the disease of the day, divorce the delayed spasm. Most of the characters are moneyed, some are artistic, and all seem to sit around and wait to be disappointed. Only two stories--"Rose, Rhododendron" and "What Should I Have Done"--manage to break this mold: they read more freely, the characters are allowed some particularity, the tales don't seem mere gathered-up mounds of effects. They're also, above all, quite moving, and, probably not coincidentally, they're both about how women are friends with one another--a subject which inspired the only touching moments in Adams' 1978 novel, Listening to Billie. Most everywhere else, though, Adams' eye is too intent upon her surfaces and her voice--a graceful but unengaging debut collection.