Maybe Michaels shouldn't have saved all these snatches of experience (which repeat themselves) since his first collection of short stories. Ars brevis, vita brevis in his case--moments impaled on the point of a pen--sensations, lusts, regrets, occasional truths and some of the funnier one-liners of his mother. Mostly they're in the first person--even if he's called Liebowitz or T. T. Mandell, who are also writer-teachers. Of the two least formless ones, ""Murderers"" is about two youngsters literally eavesdropping from a roof on a rabbi and his wife during a moment of intimacy--this could well remind you of the earliest, best Philip Roth. The last, ""The Captain,"" takes place at an elegant, sexually vulpine dinner party where people eat each other up. When Michaels is at his talented best, one catches the kinesthetic vitality and the verve and the throwaway humor. But they're all so quick, so intermittent. William Carlos Williams does not appear among the ever-present Byron, Marx, Tolstoy and Borges even if he did say ""the instant, trivial as it is, is all we have."" It applies to Michaels who seemed destined to be Going Places (1965) but now is just picking up the pieces.