The first comprehensive collection of short stories by Miss Spark and given the axiom, easily accepted, that she is one of the best storytellers on the contemporary hearth, this flight of barbed pinions has some macabre surprises and strange verities. In one tale, home movies grind on while the observer, coolly serene, watches gamboling participants in a murder of passion. Other stories of crimes of misdirected emotions assume the wily ways of vengeance. Some stories are baldly fanciful, while evidencing the same preoccupation with the bleakly amusing presence of death in the midst of human pretensions. A gift of an ""abstract funeral"" diverts an admirer while a real death cradicates the poet; the destruction of a lonely spinster sets a child to dancing: in an allegorical extravagance, a poetry maker discourses on his origins. Throughout there are moments of mad hilarity; a tiny flying saucer is indeed a Spode; a religious, socially enlightened, childless woman prays to a fertility- proferring Black Madonna and lo. . . etc. etc. Most of these stories have appeared in earlier collections and in The New Yorker and they show off her talent variously and effectively.