Every male chauvinist's nightmare comes to life as Kirshenbaum follows her recent YA novel, Short Subject (1989), with these uninhibited, irreverent stories featuring self-centered women who lie, cheat, and leave. Kirshenbaum's characters don't marry for love: one chooses a doctor because she has a phobia about ending up in the hospital--""with my chintzy health plan, they'd pull the plug,"" though she feels certain ""They would not disconnect a doctor's wife."" The manipulative, promiscuous heroine of ""Past Perfect"" ignores warnings that her past will catch up with her: reflecting on the crimes of Stalin, the Nazis, Vichy France, she believes that ""history, once you have one, spreads its legs wide open for selectivity and revision."" Though these characters may be modern and liberated, they are also out-of-step: Suzy, in ""Pravda,"" wonders why she and her best friend don't want money, successful husbands and children like everyone else (""Do you think it's all some kind of freak accident?"" she asks. ""Like one afternoon we went slumming and forgot to go home?""). Kirshenbaum's women eschew sentiment and are incapable of returning love or providing emotional support; they aren't likable, but they are hard to ignore: an anniversary gift of $1,000 ends up in the food processor, then baked in a meatloaf; a self-involved masturbator gets pleasure from a cucumber lubricated with garlic butter, as well as from trying to shock her shrink. Even the most lightweight stories here offer strange and funny moments. Sharp, often surprising, but limited in scope.