On the crest of the ongoing memoir wave comes the inevitable anthologization of ``personal'' essays, in this grouping of eight diverse pieces edited and with an introduction by Nation theater critic Stone (Laughing in the Dark, p. 1095). Stone's excellent introduction, which addresses the memoir in our time and the culture of confession and recovery, reminds us why she is one of our most valued critics. Saying that she is suspicious of the genre and conscious of its pitfalls, she registers her respect for those writers who have ``mined self-knowledge and come clean with the goods,'' who ``retrieve themselves through language, lofting out of the murk of closeted secrets with the ordering instrument of candor.'' For her selections here she says she wanted material that was relatively unexplored in literature, and so here mixes ``daylit tales and fringescapes.'' Fringescapes, indeed. Phillip Lopate's quiet, extended reflection on his father, who lives in a nursing home, is a tame piece of storytelling as presented here alongside Jane Creighton's hothouse story of sibling incest, the 17-year-old writer named Terminator's graphic depictions of sexual abuse, Stone's own provocative descriptions of her experiences with bedroom dominance and submission, and Jerry Stahl's exhilarating picaresque of running wild and whacked with crackheads. Also included are father-portraits by Lois Gould and Catherine Texier, who describes her mother the French tart, and her meeting over lunch, as a grown woman, of the man previously present only at her conception. This book gathers much fine work, but is mainly for serious readers of autobiographical writing and admirers of writing ``on the edge.''