Inness-Brown debuts with stories that seem to be pecking and tapping to hatch from the confining egg of practice exercises. Early pieces tend toward the awkward, as in ``Territory,'' about a weak-charactered traveling salesman in a failing marriage: people pose and soliloquize in unnatural ways to deepen the theme and move the story. ``Stephen,'' on the other hand, gives the knots-on-a-string impression of a story drawn, say, from diaries--a young couple goes on a long trip together, then the man goes off with another girl, then the prose stops. More often, though, pieces have a kind of conscientious but pedestrian earnestness suggesting that they needed an ``idea'' before coming into existence, instead of the other way around--as in ``Sleepwalker'' (a couple moves out of a new condo after the husband sleepwalks), ``The Surgeon'' (a doctor's wife dies of cancer), ``The Housesitter'' (a graduate student begins to acquire the temperament and personality of the people he housesits for), or ``Traveler'' (a woman is approached by men who claim to know her--and she goes along with it). When the author forgets about the ``story'' and simply puts her raw materials into the unprogramatic fiction-furnace, the results begin to enliven and achieve an atmosphere that contains drama--as in ``Life in the Tropics,'' about a young woman who lives in a city, in a large house, in summer, and waits for her lover. Small-town flavor Ö la Sherwood Anderson is evoked when a math professor's habits are slightly changed by a waitress's death (``Addison''); ``The Chef's Bride'' is a hyperconventional narrative about a Greek immigrant girl who is roughly seduced and then dies in ambiguous circumstances; and ``Happy Father's Day'' is a nostalgic maunder through two generations of a family's summer house in Maine. Short fiction of an emerging polish, varyingly arresting.