A sampling of tales and sketches focusing on women at troubled or simply weird moments in their lives (when certain unpleasant truths whisper in their ears), by the author of the novel The Same River Twice (1982). The narrator in the short-short called ""Birthday Card,"" for instance, is a contented matron who every year receives birthday greetings from an old lover--her one secret, ""the thing against which I measure true happiness,"" she says. Indeed, sorrow embedded in the scar tissue of life is a frequent theme here, as in ""Margaret, Are You Grieving?"" about a woman who, while mourning the death of her daughter, recognizes how frighteningly shallow her love for her husband is. Other Bliss women must grapple with unlovable loved ones (and the resultant guilt), as in ""Small Sins,"" about a daughter who finally admits to herself that she simply cannot love her mother, an aging soap-opera star. And almost always there are the slightly too obvious metaphors--a reservoir where no swimming is allowed as the backdrop for an adultery tale, etc. Overall, it's Bliss's oddball, uncategorizable stories that work best, like one about how a young couple finds the home of their dreams with the help of a remarkably shrewd real-estate broker. It's no surprise that many entries here appeared in women's magazines like Redbook and McCall's, for these are comfortable, soft tales full of delicate apercus--indeed, too delicate for those who like to bite into a short story and taste a flavor they can name.