Twenty-seven short stories spanning 40 years from the prolific novelist/essayist/short story writer Gold--almost two-thirds of which have been collected before, although none of the collections remains in print. In reviewing Gold's 1971 collection of stories, The Magic Will, Kirkus spoke of the author's ""easy formulations"" and went on to add: ""Gold is always a pleasant writer but everything drifts. . .it is hard to take a purchase on what is being said or experienced. . ."" Gold is a sturdy enough craftsman, but the selected stories here are unmemorable and Formica-slick, ranging from mildly entertaining romance to extended ruminations on the life and times of the middle-aged male, to what is perhaps Gold's worst period, the 70's, where his protagonists are for the most part divorced professional men attempting to ""understand"" the shift in relationships between men and women. The lowest example of this in Lovers and Cohorts is ""Bart and Helene at Annie-and-Fred's,"" in which a lawyer rejects the almost pitiful advances of a woman who is a-little-too-old and not-really-pretty--and then calls his arrogance honesty. A few of the stories--""Ti-Moune,"" ""A Selfish Story,"" ""Max and the Pacemaker""--have a pleasant, shiny, magazine competence, but Gold is not a writer who takes chances, and in the end his fiction drifts in and out of the reader's consciousness like elevator music.