The heavy influence of Raymond Carver, plus a touch of Hemingway and cyberpunk, distills Mulcahy's debut collection--which includes a novella, ``Glass''--down to an edgy, somewhat paranoid vision of general failure and desuetude. The male down-and-outs of the stories have no control in a world directed by market forces, schemes, buyouts, and mergers. They are humiliated for small hopes and dreams, made to pay--usually by unemployment. Violence occurs randomly but with a certain guaranteed repetition. Landscapes are all hopeless (``Rotting wire dangled in the wind. At the edge of the lot, brush and a wooded slope. All this would be woods. Failed development''). Ersatz is universal. By presenting all this unrelieved fug in highly encapsulated form (some stories barely run three pages), Mulcahy's stylistic hope seems to be that the pieces come off like sick jokes made entirely out of punchlines--that if his junky landscapes and dead-end lives can be boiled down thinly enough, they will result in something oddly festive, lightsome. But all that really comes across is their self-conscious brevity--what is finally the sentimentality of saying too little about what's too insupportably much.