First-timer Boylan submits these 20 stories as evidence of a ""crazy world,"" a not very original notion here given lunatic life in work that's often pointless, or worse--so pointed that it forms a predictable critique of postmodern life. Boylan's random wit, at its least effective, relies on all kinds of gimmicks. Two pieces mimic a dictionary format--the first (""Dictionary Art Review"") a single paragraph about the illustrations used in dictionaries, and the latter (""Day to Die"") a series of spurious definitions that manage to tell of the narrator's callous treatment of a girlfriend dying from Hodgkin's disease. A more clever bit, ""Final Exam,"" takes the form of a reading comprehension test, and provides hints as to how we're to read this very strange volume. The weirdest narratives splice improbable subjects: ""The Thirty-six Miracles of Lyndon Johnson"" is a conflation of the lives of John Lennon and JFK; ""Lost in Space"" mixes the Centralia mine disaster with the memories of a human cannonball from the circus, and ""Jimmy Durante Lost in Antarctica"" finds Durante exploring the South Pole. Boylan's self-conscious fascination with ""space flight"" and ""celebrity"" is most apparent in ""Elvis in Space,"" with its space capsule suitably designed for the King. Meanwhile, some stories that aspire to Lewis Carroll-like whimsy are just plain impenetrable: one has something to do with the Three Stooges (""Fugue for Violin and Three Stooges""); and in another, two cousins land deep in a hole under an outhouse, descending further into the vortex (""The Rescue""). More conventionally surreal pieces include: ""The Gissix Project,"" an account of the discovery of a substance that makes you remember childhood smells; ""Weasels,"" about an overeager weasel-exterminator; and ""Aloe,"" a description of a ""postcontemporary performance novel"" that the narrator is abandoning to write ""the first edible cookbook-mystery/algebra test."" Real laughs occasionally mix with the conceptual in these pop-cultish tales of disaster and obsession.