Barbara Deming whose Revolution & Equilibrium has had quite a following (Dwight MacDonald and Noam Chomsky; Mary McCarthy and Kay Boyle) appears quite otherwise in a folio of softer-shelled short stories ranging from two which had magazine appearance about 20 years ago and which are quite conventional in contour and content (""An Invitation"" and ""Death and The Old Woman"") to the last scrappy ""A Book of Travail,"" barely off the pad. Her old woman, rigidly resisting death although she has already been isolated from life for many years, is both the most finished and the most obvious; lonely and no longer loved women figure in two of the others; but the first and longest title piece, counterposing a proprietary-protective young woman, also a writer, and a shy, homosexual young man in a household of animated, fretful and estranged drifters is by far the most effective, scratching more than the surface and suggesting that the artist ""must look beyond life."" . . . Pleasing, if tissue paper thin in spots.