What hath Bettelheim wrought? We have here an old blind gypsy and the tales she spins for passers-by--seven stories of a mythic, usually sexual, nature, each tailored to its purchaser, all of them symbolizations of their situations, none of them construable on any other level. In the most mundane sense, it's as if Aesop were telling the story of the fox and the grapes to an envious soul. Thus, a cold, imperious husband is presented with "Man of Rock, Man of Stone" in which a quarrier, angered by his wife's insistent wish for a child (after their wedding: "Will we make a child tonight?"), tries to make a child of stone; but, unaccustomed to looking at children, he makes a man in his own image--which, taking fright, slays him. This is followed by "The Tree's Wife"--told to a sad young woman in black and her little son--wherein a rich young widow, rejecting her fortune-hunting suitors, declares she'd "sooner wed this tree," sees it turn into a man of birch, couples with him ("When his mouth came down on hers, she smelled the damp woody odor of his breath"), bears a child--and, after the tree dies (going, futilely, for a midwife), is lifted skyward with her child by the nearest birch. Says the widowed dream-buyer to her child: "Come. We will go to your father's people. They will take us in, I know that now." The framing device is hokey, the tales are realtively trite (but sententiously delivered) embodiments of classic motifs, the reader can only take them or leave them--not ponder their meaning for himself/herself. And goodness knows there's little to delight in.