Anderman, one of the younger generation of Polish writers, gives over a montage-like portrait of martial-law-era Polish life in these vignettes and ""freeze-frames."" And the picture is of a defeated, listless, universally depressed populace, quickly turning cruelly uncivil to each other as well as to the State. The humor is as cold and gray as winter weather: ""Those and those too were called the enemy. They were made prisoners before being told the war had broken out. Prisoners were taken first in this war, and the war was declared afterwards. Before the tanks began to roll through the square, the prisoners were already behind walls, surveyed by towers bristling with guards."" Life seems hypnotized, drained of vitality:"". . .the armoured car in the frozen courtyard down below had broken down and several soldiers were bustling helplessly around it; the lifeless town lay some distance beyond; a pile of snow was hardening on the pavement; a man stopped forlornly in the street, as if he could not find the way in his own town; in a bathroom a pensive woman was slowly washing her hair."" Short and fragmentary, not fully rounded by the imagination, these pieces are like pencil sketches, lacking the bulk of fully realized stories, or of work such as that by Konwicki. And yet their frail power is evident and unarguable: they are chilling slices of great sadness from a state of modern political barbarism.