Thirteen brief stories by a 31-year-old Soviet writer who emigrated to Israel in 1973. Gerenstain manages to combine the themes of family denunciation during the Stalin era, Russian anti-Semitism, and bureaucratic intrigue with the discovery of a mystically animate world of nature and the dissolution of the ego. An old woman burns rubles in front of a jolly pink Chinese god; an old man asks why a French horn plays--""because it is empty inside""; a writer bribes an editor with bricks; and a factory official does in his rival. The narrators are mostly floating young men (""Maybe it was disclosed to him that there were no hard and fast borders between nature and man?"") or crushed little boys, like the one tormented for his Jewishness at a Young Pioneer camp until his father arrives. . . and slaps his son for having sent him to hard labor when the boy told a neighbor he didn't mourn Stalin's death. The style is a compound of Ionesco, Alan Watts, and the Russian surrealist Andre Biely, whose sharp, extravagant tricks with light and space are equaled here. Gerenstain indulges in sententiousness about ""the fat, faceless manipulators of power"" and sophomoric raptures about ""the silence that gives birth to the truth,"" but he has a certain exuberant skill.