From the 82-year-old author of such avant exercises as The Talking Room (1976) and the witty The Memoir of the Late Mr. Ashley (1986): a story that concerns the tensions of love, hate, fear, and guilt in the deadly round of approach, hurt, and withdrawal--a round with no exit--in the relationship between an aging mother and her married daughter. Keep those visits to mom at the Bide-a-Wee Nursing Home to a minimum, the narrator-daughter directs herself--but, then, ``once I split I'm trapped anew by that godawful guilt.'' Mom had fought like a tiger when she was taken to Bide-a-Wee (``rated A+'') from her dirty apartment studded with empty liquor bottles. But now she's quiet, aloof from the TV-hooked ``inmates'' and wary of the humiliation that is always a threat. Mom (mind deteriorating) struggles for old masteries, old pride, but--rejected herself long ago--she still has an active, itchy trigger finger. Meanwhile, decay moves over the city of New York: the homeless, reminiscent of the ``mumbling, jostling, snarling'' wheelchair hordes, seem to the daughter to give her the same dirty looks, ``watching me from under their rags.'' A grand hotel, remembered in light and roses by mom, is demolished, as is mom's former home. (The author, drilling in the point, has the hotel's last chandelier crash down on an ``ODed druggie.'') The daughter's husband urges her to take mom with them to the healthy Midwest, and when she seems mom's radiant joy on a stolen ``freedom ride'' into the street, she's sure she will--but that's before mom's bitter thrust to the jugular, and the result that ``My promise was a bad check.'' Yet on a postcard (probably not sent) from the Midwest, there will be this: ``dear mom/miss you/want to/see you/love/me/p.s. I'm pregnant, mommy.'' With the scorpion sting of some direct, merciless, fairly awful truths about aging moms and raging daughters.