Gaitskill's second collection is a return to the themes of her first, Bad Behavior (1988): Bad girls misbehave and end up as profiles in sexual pathology. For all their naughty sex talk, there's very little pleasure--Gaitskill's women are too brittle and nervous, forever exhausted by their unusual tastes, to take much relish in life. The familial origins of her troubled women are well illustrated in ``Tiny, Smiling Daddy,'' a portrait of a father disturbed by the course of his daughter's life, from sweet, beautiful girl to snarling teen and then to grown-up lesbian rehashing their relationship in a national magazine. A male perspective in two stories is equally grim: The twentysomething fellow who returns to Iowa to visit his injured mother uses the occasion to manipulate his girlfriend back in San Francisco; more troubling is the drunken confession by a middle-aged businessman on an airplane to his shocked female seatmate--as a teenager he participated in a gang rape. Quite a few pieces concern women in their late 30s, often bisexual, who seem incapable of maintaining relationships. The writer in ``The Dentist'' becomes obsessed with seducing her dumpy dentist, a man made uncomfortable by her sexual innuendos. In ``The Wrong Thing,'' the narrator is, at first, dismayed by a younger man reluctant to have sex with her and retreats into an affair with a woman who likes only S&M role- playing. ``The Blanket'' explores a similar notion: An older woman energizes her younger lover by exploring their fantasies. The finest piece is ``Orchid,'' the discussions of two college housemates who hook up years later in Seattle and seem to prove that those in the so-called helping professions--she's a social worker, he's a psychopharmacologist--are usually in need of much help themselves. Gaitskill continues to explore the margins of human sexuality in stories distinguished by their strange terrain rather than by their exceptional skill.