In these eleven brief stories, Marianne Hauser (Prince Ishmael, etc.) explores the hazy, secret worlds of a number of troubled, troubling people. Lust, love, fear of people's voices drives three of them to violence and even murder. Another creates his own exotic world out of his own past. But a pickpocket unexpectedly finds a house in a would-be literary group, and a ruthless mother, in a fierce and witty tale, opposes her life-loving daughter. Most of the other characters find some middle way of dealing with their dreams and their alienation in the ""real"" world. The range of characters is remarkable and the overall effect hypnotic. The stories, while exposing somewhat private, unexpected truths, observes them at a distance.