Fifteen polished stories by the veteran author of, most recently, a deeply felt memoir of his brother, Imagining Robert (1997). In the title piece, a surgeon named Michael has a cup of coffee with the man appointed by the court to investigate his broken marriage and determine custody arrangements. Neugeboren cunningly orders things so that, at first, the reader sympathizes with Michael, then slowly comes to realize that he's been a bit of a monster. The same persona--a smart, professional, newly divorced man--appears several times here. In ""Tolstoy in Maine,"" a highly successful filmmaker is hiding from himself in a seacoast town. He, too, has recently gone through a divorce, and misses his kids, and feels his ex-wife lied about him. In the town, he meets a beautiful divorcÃ¢e who draws him out and loves him tenderly, only to disappear in the morning. Then Neugeboren offers her story, too, and the pathos of her disappearance turns romantic--and hopeful. He also takes romance about as far as a realistic writer can in the imaginative ""What Is the Good Life?,"" a spy story set in France. Neugeboren reflects on Grace Kelly both as an actress and a princess in the voice of a Grace Kelly--like character who's killed by an assassin after an impossibly romantic love affair. The amusing ""In Memory of Jane Fogarty"" concerns a psychiatrist who receives half a million dollars in insurance money when a patient of hers dies in a plane crash. The patient named her as sole beneficiary, but his parents are having none of it. A court battle is about to ensue, making the reader wonder who's crazier: the dead man, or all the people fighting for his money? Neugeboren's sensibilities are exclusively northeastern and upper-middle class, which probably describes his readers as well. This time, he gives them their money's worth, and then some.