It is almost ten years since Doris Lessing's last collection of short stories and in this form she is less identifiably herself -- there is none of the militance, both personal and political, which has intensified the thrust of her novels. Only in the socio-science-fiction, "Report on the Threatened City," does she distance beyond the ordinary world, quite accessibly to be sure. In fact all of these stories are most accessible, softer-spoken than any she has done, occasionally slipping into prettiness (the three quite lyrical eclogues -- "The Other Garden," "Lions, Leaves, Roses," and "A Year in Regent's Park") or just sentimentality -- "An Unposted Love Letter." There are two teasing story stories -- "The Story of a Non-Marrying Man" and "Out of the Fountain." The strongest include the derelict abandonment of "An Old Woman and Her Cat," the very mixed pleasures of adultery in "Not a Very Nice Story," and the title piece in which a middle-aged man faces his own annihilation during the death of his father and finds himself directionlessly "outside humanity" before he looks beyond it. This one is undershot with intimations and speculations. . . . The stories have the virtues of their diversity and ease and, on the whole, a gentleness which suggests an accommodation and acceptance one might never have expected.