The novella, ""Justice Hunger,"" and three of the nine short stories are being published for the first time; the others have appeared before in various magazines. The novella is lacklustre reportage about a 1930's boy in love with an unresponsive girl. They drift through endless conversations in coffee houses about Stalin vs. Trotsky, hard times, unions, and the purpose of art--most of these topics are merely listed. But if the novella is pedestrian, many of the short stories are small, sharp images, touched with irony and a natural sympathy for bungling human beings. One of the best is ""A Note on Chivalry,"" a series of short sections, askew in ""real"" time, describing the thoughts of a man who throws a book at some sociologists at a party--to ""defend"" a lovely girl they are talking to. Another is ""The Locking Gas-Cap, which lightly reveals the frustrating thoughts of a man (engaged now for six years) about his fiancee and her mother, who is ubiquitous. Another is ""Ball of Fire,"" about a businessman who, reading a novel concerning an indolent man, mulls Over the argument of sloth versus action. Liben dwells a great deal on the ""almost-motivated"" but lazy person, the guy who can't ""shake"" his surroundings or himself. The casual, talkative stories show this predicament very well, while the novella never sloughs off its prosy sluggishness.