These four new stories revisit the Richardsons, the cast of players in Bromell's previous collection, The Slightest Distance (1974). As before, Sam, the father, works abroad in the diplomatic service; Laura, the mother, is the plumbweight of the family; and there are three sons--Scobie, Matthew, and Quentin. Scobie provides the time-frame here: the first story has him attending a Beatles concert in Washington in 1964, a confused teenager; in 1976, married and a father and a writing teacher in Iowa, he listens to Beatles records nostalgically. In between, the author gingerly tests the limits of relationship and discretion, loyalty, rediscovery. Much is made about the quality of light, and Bromell's prose often seems like a dry-ice fog machine just off stage: ""The trees looked like white umbrellas opened above the benches. We traced the perimeters of the park, looking for something. I couldn't imagine what, perhaps a way out, the gravel road leading to the city, perhaps a way in, a way into the center of the statues, the invisible circle the statues formed, a way into the snow, a way into each snowflake."" Bromell's good intentions and sensitivity are clear, and his unassuming, mobile romanticism will please those partial to the New Yorker sensibility. But the lack of any real toughmindedness toward his subjects--or substantial risk beyond a kind of dauby impressionism--drains his fiction of everything but sympathy and approximation.