Urbane stories--almost all set in Mexico City. The weakest tales here simply exploit a single metaphor: in "Chac-Mool," a collector buys a pre-Columbian statue of a god, and the god turns into flesh; in "In a Flemish Garden," a Europeanized house is haunted by the Empress Carlotta. But the strongest of them take on Mexico City's schizoid energy in total. An old bachelor, mother-stifled, lives alone in a crumbling house and keeps to the genteel practices of 30 years before (wakes late, eats in one restaurant, wears spats and a bowler): he's eventually murdered by the street hustlers who are his cultural opposites. "The Two Elenas" portrays a young woman so desperate to be hip and "with-it," decultured, that she becomes a mirror image of herself, her own bouncing infinity. And the final story, "The Son of Andres Aparacio," is perhaps the best: a rolling, careening, ashy tale of a young man without prospect who becomes involved with a neo-Fascist brigade of terrorists: here Fuentes is able to run without a leash what he knows best--disappointment. In general, however, stories are a less hospitable form for this writer than are novels, and the single ideas here mostly seem merely tantalizing, not a full measure.