Six fussy, feeble stories--with Fleetwood's familiar material (homosexuality, artistic soul-searching, murky spiritual awakening) offered up in vignettes and fables. The best, most realistic piece is the opener, ""The Dance""--about a 40-ish British actor, a Rome-dwelling homosexual, who comes home for a tacky, huge family party. . . where he ponders God and the un-reality of his life (with dancing as an overdone metaphor). ""The Inventor"" is at least intriguing, if finally limp: a shy scientific genius uses a washed-up, mercenary actor as his public persona--until the actor starts doing the inventing himself. But the other four items are merely precious and tedious: an aging dancer torn between unrequited love for a painter and her newly-discovered love of God; a black painter who's willing to sell his body, but not his paintings; yet another actor, also homosexual, who's writing a story that invents a whole new universe (with someone like himself, ""a flabby, disgraceful tortured man,"" as God); and ""The Story-Teller,"" a fairy-tale about an old man who ""creates lives."" The weakest book yet from a mediocre, increasingly pretentious writer (The Redeemer, The Beast), whose mannered prose here is a thicket of parentheses and semi-colons.