A debut collection of six stories from Alberts (the novel Tempting Fate, 1987)--a writer especially good at weaving together, in a few pages, a saatisfying tapestry of voice, character, situation, and detail. The standout here is ``Blood Sand,'' about Daniel, a New York investment broker who throws over his wife and suburban life and moves to Hermosa, New Mexico, where he buys up ten acres and begins to build what a neighbor calls his ``hippie house.'' The story covers some 15 years, during which Daniel--alienated from his affluent parents as well as his East Coast origins--divorces, turns blue-collar, marries a local Hispanic girl, then divorces again before finding both love and acceptance. Likewise, the haunting title piece, told as a series of vignettes and family snapshots, covers a lot of ground in the life of an unhappily married man, a lawyer with an office job in the family factory. ``Between Revolutions: Holiday, 1982'' is a powerful (and more concentrated) tale about Grisha, a Russian teacher of English who wants to consummate his affair with Kate, an American exchange teacher, but can't find an apartment where the lovemaking might happen. It's a funny-sad story, juxtaposing the bleakness of Russian life with Kate's high-spirited American expectations. The same is true in ``Russia Is a Fish,'' except that here Kate wants to marry Kolya, a vigorous ex-seaman, only after he's lost interest in her. As for the other pieces: ``Dealing'' is a dreary tale of drugs and strung- out mornings, while ``Veterans'' is just a sketch about a woman's fascination with her veteran boyfriend and with memories of her own life in the 60's. Originally, the most impressive stories here--some of which first appeared in American Fiction and Nimrod--read like small novels, by turns lyrical and gritty.