. . . and points south, if only in state of mind, but none of the four of these six short stories which deal with tangential Negro-white relationships are spurred by the current hostilities. Four of them also have appeared in The New Yorker. If their dramatic definition is slight, they do succeed as predicated by the form in transfixing glancing emotions and summary experiences. Washington is a prelude to Baltimore in which a young white man en route there meets a group of Negroes in a grubby grocery store to which he returns in the second story for a birthday party--and to listen to the annals of a World War II army camp prize fight. The last two stories are also related, though not chronologically, one dealing with a boy's attachment to their Negro Bessie, and the second taking place in the retrospective chill following the death of his two oldest, closest friends. Mary Jane is the firmest of the six--civil rights make a marriage all wrong between an awkward, sincere young man and his beautiful, bitchy, displaced Southern girl. . . . Softspoken but never slurred, the stories are written with a remarkable lack of pretentiousness of any kind and a splendid openness, surprising and pleasing in this ambiguous age.