An eerie, exhibitionistic little item, generally exasperating- -and exasperatingly quotable, prettily quixotic, and funny. It's all a fictional gumbo of wee paragraphs--notations concerning a houseful headed by three sisters named Marie. Marie Madeleine is a programmer, a wage earner (the only one in the family) who busses daily into Hartford, Connecticut (``It frequently occurs to her that someone has made a mistake''). Marie Celeste is devoted to European languages and the curious titles of heraldry (there is a burst of Swedish). Marie Angelique is an artist ``quite capable of painting wind.'' Meanwhile, Captain Stuart, the sisters' octogenarian father, motorcycles in from far places (``Walking across Mongolia is very wearying but at least it is Mongolia''), and their mother, Princess Yzumruda, traveling in her star-studded van, is very beautiful and of gypsy blood (her ``Ramshackle Magic seems to be enough''). There are other briefly glittering human oddments about--coming, leaving, feasting on holidays--and as events fly by like flashcards, there are also questions for the reader: ``Was it too late?'' ``What was that voice?'' And so on. There are, however, no firm answers: ``Not really.'' ``Not yet.'' ``Of course.'' And so forth. At the close (or at least when the paragraphs stop peppering), the household (their problem solved by a fanciful computer maneuver) fly off like birds. To stay the reader from miring in pixie quicksand or hurling the book, MacKiernan includes antic bits: e.g., a Marie imagines a queen honeybee lounging below deck who says, ``When winter comes, the drones will walk the plank--but not yet.'' Is this fiction too flighty for general use? Of course. Should one condemn it out of hand? Certainly not. Should one await further efforts with interest? Probably.