Irish writer Quinn's fictional world resembles that grungy one of the down and out in early Orwell--but the voice is more fugal, inexact, swirling. In the title story, for instance, a young Irish girl escapes to the insensate London world after her relationship with a much-older painter leads to his death, yet can only really leave through her own death; and the pessimism here is romantic at its core. Elsewhere, too, awful experiences--drug-addiction, the Bangladesh war--are seen as defeats of the spiritual at the hands of the everyday, with sentimental protestations against cruel fate. (In ""Fates,"" there is even a bar-maid with the clichÃ‰d heart of gold.) But when Quinn holds his sentimentality in check, he can be very good indeed. In ""Voyovic,"" immigrant workers in Germany--Gastarbeiten--are presented memorably, a class of the homeless made invisible in modern Europe; one, Voyovic, falls in love, a love that he hurries to exit from via suicide (years of degradation have made him feel a nothing, so how can he love?); and, without abstractions and whirligig language, Quinn makes a very moving story of it, darkness and unsloppy pity evenly paired. So: one truly fine piece--and others which show talent but are blurred by self-conscious writing and overbearing sentiments.