Catbird’s latest offering (the seventh so far) of the work of the eminent Czech writer (1890–1938) presents the full contents of two early story collections. The 13 tales of Wayside Crosses (1917) are mostly discursive explorations of religious or philosophical conundrums; expressions of Capek’s relativistic (and democratic) belief that “impossible” things (such as “A footprint [in the snow] that comes from nowhere and leads nowhere”) may be accepted even if not satisfactorily explained. The nine Painful Tales (1921), which are generally much more plot- and character-driven, are illustrations of the absurdity and beauty of human illogic and folly. Among the most memorable: “Two Fathers,” about a passive cuckold ennobled by his selfless love for the child of another man (which compares interestingly with Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Gimpel the Fool”) and the brilliant “Money,” whose reclusive protagonist, exploited by his grasping siblings, runs a painful emotional gamut from indifference through compassion and generosity to stony, stoical solitude. This replete volume offers further proof, if any were needed, of a still-underrated great writer’s distinctive versatility, creative energy, and humanity.