These moving stories of childhood, of children and parents, immigrant Greek-Americans-- have much to do with the painful intransigence of human love, fading away before the cognizance of time passing. e compulsions of circumstance, a muddied past, an unpromising future. Two stories concern the love and mutual trust of a child and a severe, eccentric woman, whom the child betrays in exigencies set by an adult and peer society; old children search the faces of aging parents, of relatives, for forgotten ties, elusive strengths, resisting an impotent present; young husbands can only hope for communion. In the title story, a surrealist, savage satire on American mores, middle age men are set forth to provide an American ethic with an empire of ""things."" The quiet wistfulness of lonely men in deserted houses; moments of heartbreaking regrets for the passing of intimacy and warmth: impassive acceptances of a future where concern is catalogued in a doctor's file cabinet--give an affecting dimension to man's groping for love. All but one of these spare stories have appeared in The New Yorker.