Eight short stories that strain after the colloquial in familiar ways: occasional sparkle and one gem in a mostly uninspired debut. Lear has it down pat: the neo-literary non-literary voice with its awkward syntax, likes, you knows, the sudden unmoored entry into stories, and narrators who tell their lives flat out (``How it usually goes in the mornings is...'') with cute assessments (``The way we are is a couple....''; ``Boredom is what I tell myself I feel''). In the novella-length ``Solace'' (which provides the collection's title: Stardust, 7-Eleven, etc., being the names of the protagonist's dogs), musician C.W. tries to live out a beer- commercial-inspired vision, taking his aspiring trumpeter son and two sexy divorcÇes on a weekend gig; the son--resentful of losing practice time--turns hostile while the women--left in front of the hotel TV with nothing to do--soon, like the reader, grow bored. Characters, dropped into situations touching on life and earth, remain essentially unchanged. In ``After Memphis,'' the lively responses of southern children moving to Yankeeland and a plot involving snakes get lost as the story goes on too long. Only ``Angels''--about the funny, tender but ephemeral relationship between a woman who's recently had a mastectomy and the actor working briefly as her handyman--manages to be contemporary, quirky, and moving. Lear subordinates depth and plot to style, which might work if the style were not by now so familiar.