A disappointing batch of 11 stories from Huddle (Only the Little Bone, A Dream with no Stump Roots in It), often about sexual initiations or adolescents coming-of-age, that tends to stretch too thin or gel precious, though it does have its redeeming moments. The shortest are the most noteworthy: ""Apache,"" vigorous, tells of a stripper who's hustled by a phony ""Harvard researcher"" until she turns the hustle around: ""Underwater Spring,"" suggestive, is about a boy, abandoned by his mother, who lives with his crimpy aunts and tests himself by swimming underwater; the evocative ""Sketching Hannah"" describes a lawyer who comes to know a woman who's asked for his help in tracking down a potter she was apprenticed to; and a sardonic father in ""The Mean Mud Season"" narrates his daughter's coming-of-age. The lengthier stories, however, tend to flatten out: ""Playing,"" in which a high-school sax player (in a radio band) and his girl have sex before the sax player and another young man flip a coin (the sax player loses) to decide who will marry her (she thinks, mistakenly, that she's pregnant); and the title story, in which another horn player narrates, this time about the charismatic Richard, who doesn't ""have a philosophy anymore,"" and Louise, who likes to have sex with intelligent men until--faced with the loss of innocence and youth--she rams her car (Richard aboard) into a tree. ""Brothers,"" about fraternity high jinks, also loses its oomph before the finish; and ""The Beautiful Gestures,"" about the midlife crisis of a professor in Vermont, is not far enough removed from essay and a little mannered. Some short takes that satisfy, then, and some lengthier trots that need either to be sharpened around the edges or given their heads and developed into novellas.