Eight of the ten short stories in this collection have appeared in either the Martha Foley or O Henry annuals of best stories and there is no question of the author's imaginative skill and craftsmanship. The stories differ very much from each other but if there is a quality which seems to be a general characteristic it is in the author's attitude (regardless of the point of view of the particular story) of mild irony and a certain detachment from his characters. Two of the stories A Family Matter and The Children of Ruth and pretty much as they begin: events occur but they have no earthshaking results nor, essentially, do they cause alterations in character. The Beatification of Bobby Su Wilson is a wry description of the effect on a lapsed Catholic of the unlikely sanctity of a retarded teen-ager. Brother Quintillian and Dick the Chemist concerns two men who reach a crisis in their lives at the same time and resolve it by being what they are supposed to be. Faq' is a hidden, ancient land of ordered tranquility which proves too perfect for its modern discoverer who couldn't do without life's pain and suffering. And the title story (which might be compared to Faq in a superficial way) involves an anthropologist who finds himself reverting to the primitivism of his subject. George P. Elliott teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa.