Winner of the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, selected this year by Richard Ford: a first collection of ten stories notable for their lyrical accounts of children and young adults managing to survive emotionally in an unstable or painful world. Graver's rehearsals of reality are not always convincing, but they're lovely when they work. Many of the pieces develop according to a theme made explicit in ``The Blue Hour'': ``But sometimes, through a hitch in the mechanism, people stumble upon each other, though the circumstances do not match at all.'' In ``The Boy Who Fell Forty Feet,'' for instance, Graver renders an affecting account of a boy who wanders through the city with the knowledge that his father is dying; a chance encounter at a construction site teaches him to face the fierce uncertainty of circumstance. In the title story, Willa, who lives with her divorced mother (who ``expected the end of the world''), gets to know a blind child and learns about survival. Likewise, ``Music for Four Doors'' places a pregnant woman on the same neighborhood block with a man who's autistic; for the woman, observing and then getting to know the man is an education. In ``Around the World,'' it's the narrator who's afflicted, with an ``untraceable dislodged nerve'' that severely limits her activities. She lives through crying jags to sail in her imagination: ``How painful to see people fooling themselves. In my farthest reaches I go where I have no weight, where weight means nothing....'' The stories here that don't work tend to be arch (``The Body Shop'') or shapeless (``The Experimental Forest''). Even the failures, though, have their lyrical charms. Some of these first appeared in Seventeen, Southern Review, and Street Songs.