In his foreword to this third annual collection, the novelist Jim Grimsley asserts that it may not be possible at present to arrive at ""a successful definition"" of gay writing. In the introduction, however, series editor Bouldrey (Genius of Desire, 1993, etc.) seems to suggest the opposite, though noting that any definition of gay writing must remain somewhat loose and inclusive. This disagreement underlines the fact that gay writing--fiction, that is, shaped by a distinctly gay sensibility--is still in the process of evolving, a point made ever more evident by the great diversity of voices and styles here. The 16 stories range from Alfred Corn's terse meditation on the dangers of possessiveness relationships to Peter Weltner's lengthy, adroitly paced tale of a despairing old man and the rough, unsettling younger man who offers him a glimpse of unsuspected possibilities. Dennis Cooper contributes a piece that, while it manages to be both shocking and appropriately sad, would also seem to suggest that Cooper should be searching for some new terrain to explore--there's beginning to be an air of the expected about his outrÆ’ excavations. ""Whose Song?,"" by Thomas Glave, demonstrates a skillful use of language in a richly cadenced stream-of-consciousness narrative. Scott Heim's ""Deep Green, Pale Purple"" is a precise, affecting study of two beleaguered brothers and their violent father. And in Allan Gurganus's sly, witty, and deeply affecting ""Preservation News,"" a struggle to preserve the artifacts of the past is adroitly interwoven with a love story. A varied, often provocative, and generally strong collection.