Throughout the military dictatorship in Argentina from the late 1960s through 1982, Heker, an award-winning short-story writer, remained in the country and continued editing the literary magazine El Ornitorrinco (the Platypus) instead of going into exile. The six stories in her latest collection, selected from three previous, untranslated collections, concern adolescents or young people of artistic or intellectual inclinations, mostly female, who question the events that affect their daily lives and ponder how they themselves fit into the chaotic world around them. Heker is wise and creates recognizable, intelligent characters caught in situations they cannot control. In the magically realistic first story (""Georgina Requeni or The Chosen One""), a girl imagines that her beauty and artistic talent will enable her to ""soar"" above everyone else but discovers she cannot avoid falling, or aging. In another darkly humorous tale (""Family Life""), a male computer programmer discovers that his precise, logical universe has been rearranged -- a strange family has displaced his own and nobody has ever heard of him at work. In the title story, a maid's daughter attends the party of the daughter of her mother's employer believing she is a ""little countess"" only to learn that she is a lady's maid-in-training and that her future has been decided for her. Sometimes Heker's tales get too abstract (""Early Beginnings or Ars Poetica""), and some of the characters sound more like overlapping young voices inside the writer's head than like people in their own right (""Bishop Berkeley or Mariana of the Universe""). Unconventional, lyrical prose, marred by few false notes and filled with a sense of protest, by a writer concerned with the role of artists in society.