A common thread runs through most of the stories here: a daughter's frustrating impossibility of pleasing a large-emotioned mother (who's not ever given to biting her tongue). And, though hardly capacious, this conflict serves Crone brightly, especially in the title novella. Ruth, a youngest runaway daughter from Texas, gets herself picked up on a Massachusetts road by a man named Clack--who's driving a Winnebago motor home around the country in no hurry and with even less apparent purpose. Ruth sends frazzled, ambivalent notes home to her mother Gloria, who has run to fat . . . and has an awful itch for freedom. (Thinking of her own mother: ""The only reason to live was her grandchildren, she said. Gloria decided that sort of sentimentality disappeared in the 1960's. The only reason to live was a desire not to die, and, more recently, brute curiosity."") And finally Gloria learns to drive (disastrously), then takes off after Ruth. True, this tale is a skewed picaresque, with many notes missing: the storytelling throughout, in fact, lacks depth. But Crone writes like a staple-gun, barn-barn-barn, managing to pin down small things in a fussless row--with economy, with little apparent effort. And this lightsome, often delighting debut is the calling card of a comic writer with a great future--if she can fill out the sassy blueprints here with richer textures.