McEwan is a young Englishman whose first collection of short stories (five have appeared in little magazines) has been compared to Dahl and Collier. There are no elements of fine drawn invention and surprise here--only too literally does he manage to soil his hands. Most of them feature a nameless narrator of perverse preoccupations--like the one who graduates from whiskey, pot and masturbation but bypasses the prospect of Zulu Lulu for "Homemade" first sex with his kid sister. Little girls are never safe in McEwan's world: take the one who is promised a vista of "Butterflies" on a promenade down the path by a canal before she is assaulted and later drowns. There's the infantile retrograde in "Conversations with a Cupboard Man" who is finally sent packing by the mother who kept him that way to find a sanctuary in his attic room womb; there's another fatal accident in "Last Day of Summer"; a problem of "Solid Geometry"--the cleverest of the lot--you may not quite solve; the title story which reduces to the killing of a rat who has been scrabbling behind a wall of books; and finally the drag malice of "Disguises." Provocation of a sort, but is it really justified by such an overwhelming fetor?