Out of a bleak postmodernist vision of the Midwest come two desiccated husks of novellas, both about souring relationships and sex-as-violation, in a bone-dry debut. First story, ``Drought'': June. Hot, no rain. House, peeling paint. Willa: painter. Pond, drying. Canoe, oar, a man: Kale. Kale drinks, drunk. Was writer, once. Like Willa's father now. Cows, calves dying. Buzzard bait. Kale shoots cans through bedroom window. Couples with Willa in moonlight. Hot, no rain. Kale goes to town, alone. Masturbates in car. Drinks, drunk. Turned on by cafe waitress, cicadas mating on the windshield, masturbates on way home. Kale sells herd, drinks. Rapes Willa, pregnant now. Hot, no rain. Willa shoots cans, then Kale. Drowns herself in pond. Rain. Second story, ``Say What You Like'': Man in pain, woman in pain. His dog needy, her cat not. Man dreams of mother breastfeeding him while masturbating him. Man hits woman, scares her by driving fast, bangs her head against headboard during sex. Woman takes it, takes aspirin. Winter: Snow, long nights. More hitting, never on the face. Spring: Sun, crocuses. Woman asks, ``Do you love me?'' Man answers, ``No.'' Woman walks out. Man says, ``Boomerang.'' Conclusion: Aside from the memorable terseness of the prose, which in this case makes divinity of brevity, not much ground here hasn't been covered before--and better.