Of these ten short stories, two catch a very special quality and mood and have something to say about people and the worlds in which they live; another is a funny, but not wholly successful surrealist satire; two more are good and interesting stories; but the remaining five are just adequate. Swados is a romantic ironist, toughening his high idealism with disgust at things as they are. His successful stories seem to be those which are long enough to develop his characters sufficiently so that both the idealism and the disgust work together naturally and even tenderly, as in the title story and Year of Grace, for example. In shorter sketches like A Handful of Ball-Point Pens, A Heartful of Love, and The Peacocks of Avignon, sentiment gains the upper hand and in others the injustice of things seem to overbalance the story. Even in the less successful stories, however, there will be an excellent picture of a discontented wife or a self-betrayed artist. And in the stronger stories, there will be a heavy load of irony at the end or a first-person narrator to pull the tale out of shape. An uneven collection but an interesting one, concerned with integrity and honesty and the ways in which people fall short of these ideals.