A competent collection by Chilean writer Skarmeta, who explores typical Latin American themes but without the passion or imagination of so many of his peers. Though the locale varies from New York to Chile, the voice is always that of a high-minded man whose politics are reflexively left-wing and whose feelings are correctly sensitive. This same character, with a different name, age, and occupation, turns up in every story, whether it be the young man who has a moment of epiphany on the Chilean coast and is finally able to begin writing (``The Young Man with the Story''), or the Chilean exile who falls briefly in love with an actress playing Cinderella in a traveling troupe (``Cinderella in San Francisco''). The pieces range from a tale of how the hard-earned gold of some workingmen was stolen by the conquistadors (``Watch Where the Wolf is Going'') to the experiences of another Chilean exile (``Stuck in Mud''), this one down on his luck in N.Y.C., selling his blood to get money but finding beautiful and loving Julie, who is lonely. Other stories, like ``The Composition'' and ``The Cigarette,'' describe the effects of Pinochet's rule on a small boy with anti-fascist parents and on a young soldier torn between his duty and his left-wing origins. The Chilean perspective is a plus, but not enough to make this a significant contribution to current writing from Latin America. A ho-hum read.