This is Brian Friel's second collection of short stories (The Saucer of Larks 1962) and they are all framed by the Irish rural landscape, sometimes green, sometimes with the dank chill of autumn leaves on the wind. The contrasts continue--the unadulterated innocence of the young (The Illusionists), as against the crumpled hope of age and failure. Death walks at the heels of several here--sometimes with high humor; there's The Death of a Scientific Humanist, refused burial as an apostate, after going to glory snorting in the face of a Sister; but elsewhere (The Flower of Kiltymore) it can be a legacy of loneliness...A now motherless middle-aged man decides to breed and train a pigeon which will win the All Ireland Open by means of his Widowhood System (the cock will return to his mate) but he finds he has been snared; The Wee Lake Beyond (with its great big fish) and The Gold in the Sea (on a sunken ship) are fond illusions to be willfully, wishfully protected. Some of these stories have had New Yorker or SEP appearance; almost all are written with manifest sympathy and ease. The talent is there--but readers are just as hard to come by.