When do 18 very good stories add up to more than just 18 very good stories? When, as here, they are wisely arranged so as to provide heightened enjoyment: Singer's deadpan, boyhood-town glimpses of sin and greed and mystic doings on Krochmalna Street seem even better when interleaved with his ironic, often downright hilarious stories of being a late-middle-aged writer in New York, Tel Aviv, and Miami Beach. Of the old-Poland tales, "Two" is the obvious standout; somewhat of a companion piece to the famous "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy," it quietly chronicles another, more explicitly sexual triumph of transvestitism -- the ultimately doomed, homosexual marriage of Ezriel and Zissel. And almost as powerful are whispers of intra-familial jealousies, of rabbis struggling with lust and Satan. But, perhaps because we've come to take the world of Krochmalna Street and the ritual baths for granted, the grandest delights here are the adult, vegetarian Singer's irresistible variations on the theme of oy-vey-how-did-I-get-into-this?: a deadly literary party in the suburbs (and caught afterward in the rain with an awfully nice lady); a distinctly un-literary party in embarrassing, plastic Miami Beach; disastrously stranded naked-on-the-roof in Tel Aviv while pursuing mid-life amour; a nightmare visit to a mad literary refugee couple in Brazil; and an ordeal on a Spanish tour-bus seemingly filled with bickering clinical cases. A varied, bountiful, exuberant collection, then -- and a perfect introduction for neophytes to the whole range of Singer's short-story artistry.