The most successful collection of stories to date by smart, gifted, but somewhat detail-obsessed Tallent (Time with Children, 1987; In Constant Flight, 1983, etc.). Like earlier stories, these nine center on the intimate gestures that reveal couples' and parents' and children's dependencies and rebellions. But, here, no one is abandoned or bereft. All the stories are set in prosperous, hip western enclaves such as Santa Monica and Santa Fe. Babies--frequently twin babies- -and teenagers figure in. In ``Prowler,'' a remarried father of newborn twins breaks into his ex-wife's newly leased apartment, and the small preparations she's made for their teenaged son's visit convince him that she's a worthy mother. In three related pieces- -``Black Dress,'' the title story, and the unusually moving ``The Minute I Saw You''--a father and Nicaraguan-born stepmother living in New Mexico struggle to guide the father's teenage son through the suicide of his girlfriend and, later on, the disappearance of his mother--even as they muddle through pregnancy and a difficult childbirth, missing most of the body's important cues. In ``Earth to Molly,'' an American poet who's suffered a miscarriage ponders but doesn't succumb to an adulterous affair while traveling in Wales; in ``Kid Gentle,'' an Arizona woman who's had a miscarriage buys a horse as an act of defiance and ends up saving her marriage and getting pregnant. In ``Get It Back for Me,'' a ten-year-old girl observes the long, tedious, ongoing domestic quarrel between her parents, who are wrung dry by their twin baby boys. This and, to a lesser degree, other pieces are overloaded with unmeaningful detail; but they're also full of beautiful moments whose central message is that intimate recognition is the same as love. Strong stories.