Here are nine well-mannered and, except for a bad wobble or two, smoothly executed stories by an author who has written a great many. The pieces break no new ground and too rarely reach beyond the expected, but this will not deter those who seek the pleasures of carefully observed detail and the sometimes poignant comforts of the familiar in their fiction. ""Honeymoon""--a shallow 19-year-old has married a Las Vegas smoothie old enough to be her father--shows a situation that may be pitiable but does little to make it substantial enough to seem believable. In ""At the Fence,"" a middle-aged woman realizes that passion will never be a part of her life, and ""Straight from the Deathbed"" does a good job of portraying family resentments that have remained politely repressed until after a rather bullying father's gruesome death by cancer. In many of the stories there are horrors aplenty, but they remain nested within the tragicomic details of ordinary, domestic lives. A widowed mother is robbed in her antique shop (""The Mistress of Goldman's Antiques""), a favored brother is lost over New Guinea (""Tragic Lives""), and, in three closely interrelated stories, a heroin-addicted husband smashes the kitchen table, bites his own son's scalp, and, his wife and children having fled in fear, finally kills himself (""Memorial Service,"" ""'I Don't Believe This,'"" and ""Witnessess""). These are tales of those left behind (there is, for example, no story of the crazed husband, or of the lost brother): the survivors of disease, despair, change, and age. Competent stories with plenty of intent, but in the end, only of middling weight.