Each of these dozen+ short stories sees the American Way of Life from a different seat in the literary bleachers. From Heaven (""A Few Important Words From Baby-Doll in Glory,"" in which the madam of a black-white bordello discourses on the races); from the outsider who's trying to understand (""Jirac Disslerov,"" a Yugoslav immigrant-scientist in Peoria, constantly confused and amused by the sheer strangeness of America); from the imaginative mind that's able to transcend reality (a starving man in Iowa reads about and reaches a mystical communion with the Donner Pass party; William Shakespeare is an American college literature professor who's getting fired by the dean because he lisps). The themes are familiar: sex, racism, violence, masculinity, morality--how they become fatally intertwined. And, viewed from so many angles, that indefinable heart of the American experience (""no need to define it further,"" says a Chambers character, ""definition usually obscuring the ongoing structure of the world as it does"") is outlined in-the-round with startling clarity. Chambers, whose earlier works, The Bonnyclabber and Chambersburg, were published by small presses, is a master of the ironic and laconic, and many of these stories are wonderfully funny. Ignore the few fragmented failures--the best of this collection will introduce a quirkily fresh voice to a wider audience.