Four of the sixteen stories in this collection are solid successes; the rest are ersatz, substituting Greek folksiness for insight. Petrakis singles out the Greek colony on New York's West Side as his territory and writes about the lonely and dispossessed as if each character has a little drop of Homer in him. Bartenders, ex-wrestlers, old storekeepers, librarians, widows, icemen, priests and wifebeaters, they all speak with accents of the homeland and gesture against fate. Petrakis admires their anger and stamina, and tells their stories with vigor rather than close texture or cumulative detail. The two best stories, which seem linked, are frankly comic. In the first a Zorba-like tavernkeeper (and ex-wrestler) falls instantly in love with an amply endowed Ariadne at a social dance. He woos her with both fists pounding against her defenses. In the second story he has won her and begun beating her ""gently."" One night she clubs him in bed, later chases him with a cleaver. In other stories, a middle-aged librarian belts her old suitor for letting his mother come between them; an aged iceman dies; an old storekeeper grudgingly revamps his store to suit his updated son. Some phony tales, some funny.