This anthology of contemporary Czech writing is almost equally divided between two forms: the feuilleton--the short, usually ironic piece of journalism that Europeans traditionally do so well; and the short-story (or semi-fictional memoir). Of the feuilletons, only Ludvik Vaculik's work comes across with the sad bite intact: he writes a series of pieces on the false hope of each spring--with the shadow of Prague Spring 1968 (when the Czech democratic experiment was trampled) strongly felt. But much of the fiction commands attention: from Jiri Grusa (The Questionnaire, 1982), there's the comic-macabre ""Salamandra""; Ivan Klima offers a good-humored recital of the realism of small-time capitalism (""Christmas Conspiracy""); Jan Trefulka delivers a powerful sketch of a dying woman's infidelity in ""Belleview""; and ""Trouble"" is characteristic work from the well-known Pavel Kohout--a comic story of sexual doubt and electronic police spying. True, the two most acclaimed expatriate Czech talents--Milan Kundera and Josef Skvorecky--are not represented here. But even without them, this worthy, intriguing collection provides a strong sense of a distinctive modern-Czech sensibility: wry, resigned, only fractionally depressed.