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From first-timer Lipsky, 11 often nicely observed stories mostly about the uncertainties of youth--but with not very much that makes them moving or lifts them beyond the familiar. Part of the problem lies with the plain shallowness of some of the high-school and college-age kids here themselves; in the lille story, for example, a boy squanders a tuition check sent by his divorced father, gets into a tricky ballet-dance of trouble with both parents, but never admits to what he's done--making for a story that asks us to be moved by the woes of a character who's mainly weak and unappealing. In ""Lights,"" the problem is a naively inflated sense of the material's import: a college boy tries for one girl but gets another (""And would my own life have been different, somehow, if I'd spent with Judy the two years I spent with Susan?""). In ""World of Airplanes,"" a college grad dates a rich girl, then drops her when he decides partly that he doesn't love her and partly that he doesn't like being subordinate in wealth; in ""Garden,"" another recent graduate--again uncertain about what to do in the future--worries that he's got AIDS; and in ""March l, 1987,"" a college senior thinks back to the long-ago start of freshman year. These are stories that hover on the edge of an Ann Beattie-like resonance, Salinger-touched, but that can't yet find the weight to make them ring. ""Relativity"" has some biting academic satire but also YA overtones--a story about personality conflicts on a dorm floor at Brown Univ.; ""Colonists"" makes a good stab at satirizing a Yaddo-like arts colony but settles for a clich‚d ending; and ""Springs, 1977"" is a tale of East Hampton, in which a divorced mother makes a summertime effort to woo her two sons away from their seemingly more glamorous father's custody. In ""Shh,? another child of divorced parents looks out for his slowly sinking artist mother by escorting her to gallery openings, and in ""Answers,"" the most moving and unposed here, a boy discovers that he loves both of his divorced parents equally. In all, stories of frequent if uneven skill that are looking for material to match it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Summit/Simon & Schuster