Petrakis' embattled priests, outsize men, their thunderingly constant and/or promiscuous women, seem to measure their degree of involvement with Life in decibels, and these short stories offer a variety of hubris-haunted performances. Most of the very dramatis personae are Greek Americans tragically, occasionally humorously, breasting or succumbing to the waves of mortality. Two widows mourn their husbands--one dragged to a death-in-life by the monumental failure of her brutish husband who had practiced the lost art of puppetry; another looking forward to love again, after a marriage of tumultuous joy. A dying writer, an unrepentant sinner, has a vision of life's glorious, profligate continuity in his just-discovered bastard son; a son foresees his own decline in the aging and death of his father. Love is often a losing game: two lonely failures destroy their brief illusion of a future together; a young foursome experiment disastrously with la dolce vita. Also included is an affecting novella concerning the spiritual crisis of a middle-aged priest and his humbling certainty of his responsibility in the terrible aridity of faith. Frankly Brobdinagian sentiment, but for the following, as heady as ouzo.