Collins, a native of Limerick and teaching fellow at the University of Chicago, offers eight gritty, violent tales of the Irish in his first story collection. In ``The Butcher's Daughter,'' a young pregnant woman mourns the death of her rebel boyfriend moments before setting off a bomb in a bar full of British soldiers; in ``The Meateaters,'' a scared 19-year-old Irish political refugee is murdered by the Irish- Americans he believed would rescue him; in ``First Love,'' the children of a drunken Irishman start a bloody revolution while he's locked in his car during a drinking spree. Collins's stories share a sense of Ireland's darker passions and its natives' fiery involvement with Catholicism, alcohol, violence, and revolution; and if the plots occasionally turn convoluted (as in ``The Whore Mother,'' about a young widow's furtive actions in her Dublin neighborhood) or veer into melodrama (as in ``The Sunday Races,'' in which a young runner is beaten by his mentor when his leg refuses to function, and in ``Sickness,'' in which a family patriarch attempts to abuse his ``idiot'' grandson sexually), the twisted road is in most cases a fascinating one. Collins' heroes are hardly pure--few stories pack as much blood, hatred, and dissolution as these--but they may, in the end, be innocent. An intriguing debut.