While it is true that we all may have severe reservations about the anti-novel or absurdist fiction or new-wave porno- fantasias, the fact remains that these recent experiments have changed taste considerably and pretty nearly decimated the effectiveness of many older writers. Such a casualty is Kay Boyle. Miss Boyle, no doubt, was a name to conjure with in literary circles during the Thirties and Forties, but she seems out of touch now. Her current collection of short stories is divided into three sections: Peace, War Years and Military Occupation. Some stem from the Popular Front Period, others concern the Hitler aftermath, or the Cold War. Most deal with political issues in sentimental terms. A lieutenant, ""solid in build as a commercial airlines' pilot,"" seeks out a Saigon professor on a hunger strike in a Brooklyn chapel. ""He stopped and gave a little laugh. 'I wanted to say I've told them I won't fight in Vietnam,' he said, and he went inside: and I knew this was the beginning of the story and that I could finally write it down."" Such ""messages"" are prevalent throughout...Miss Boyle's compassion is great but her narratives are slight, a wistful backward glance.