Stories written between 1948-90 and uncollected--perhaps because they are, for the most part, minor and ephemeral--until now; Friedman (Coming Close, 1982; The Polygamist, 1982; The Anguish of Father Rafti, 1978) is known as art historian and Jackson Pollock biographer; several of these pieces look at the New York art and business scene. Friedman is at his best evoking the world of New York business and money: of powerful men who are more at home in the office where all their needs are catered to than in their so-called home where--as explained by the monologuist of ""Whisper""--they have nothing to fill the time and ""must manufacture the irritations that are mine, free, at the office."" In this world, power is silent, not noisy: ""Money talks quietly, like me. It's all zeros""; the goal is not accumulation but deductions. Friedman's businessmen often collect art and patronize artists, or enviously imagine the artist's life. The more plotted stories seem garrulous and sophomoric: the middle-aged protagonist of ""P--: A Case History"" has his prayer (for a perpetual hard-on) granted, and pays with his life; in ""Reunion in Spain,"" two lovers--an art critic and a painter who argue about the role of criticism--take a new psychedelic drug that sends her off on a hallucinated trip to Spain and him to a mental ward. Generally disposable fiction--with occasional sharp social observation worth savoring.