In these short stories of life in rural Michigan and northern Ohio, where life is prey to the same discontents of love and yearning as anywhere else, Kauffman's distinctive tone is the sole attraction: ""Durango and I get drunk sometimes, talking too late. We keep track of each other and help out, whatever happens. When they stitched my neck, he brought me turtleneck sweaters and read me three books through three days. I've taken care of him too, when Marlene locked him out and turned up the amps, turned on every large and small appliance in the goddamn house."" This loose-crochet manner, with a series of facts reported in no particular order and without clear linkage, sometimes works freshly: ""Who Has Lived from a Child with Chickens"" is a charming farm tale; and ""The Mechanics of Good Times"" is a feckless, sweet treatment of courting behaviors. But too often the weave is so open that all meaningfulness flows right through it and away--without even enough shape to allow one to enjoy the language. And the sole departure from Kauffman's general approach is ""Patriotic,"" a story about neighbors haying together, two women and a high-school boy, in the heat, with the women finally forced to remove their blouses: it's funny, unexpected, finely burnished and rounded and harmonic--like a Breughel painting. One fine tale and a few engaging sketches, then, in a collection that's too oblique and fey to show off what seems to be a genuinely promising talent.