These 15 stories by Volk, frequent New York Times Magazine contributor and author of White Light (1987), bear all the marks of contemporary Manhattan culture, in the anthropological sense of the term. Undemanding and often flippant, Volk's lighthearted pieces rely on the obvious jokes about urban life--from food fads to the stuff that calls itself postmodernism. Not surprisingly, the real subject here is ""relationships,"" most often in disrepair. A woman married to an insensitive psychiatrist (""Blue Light"") finds solace with an artist-lover, a man with ""Retro-garbage. All-natural garbage."" Another unhappy housewife, in ""Which Is Better,"" worries that she ""Thinks Too Much But Can't For The Life Of Her Stop,"" and bemoans her children's preference for things artificial. Nostalgia for former lovers tinges ""The High-Bouncing Lover,"" in which a woman visits her ex who's now with the friend she passed him to, and ""Gyzygy,"" in which a married woman, jilted by her lover for his fitness trainer, finally accepts the end of their affair. ""Rules and Laws"" asks the question: What is ""the rule for going up to a man's apartment when that man is separated from your friend even if you were friends with that man first and only came to know the woman later?"" Not to mention that you're married, though unhappily, like the art historian in the title stow, who composes letters in her head to Georgia O'Keeffe. Sibling relations dominate a tho of linked pieces narrated by the younger sister, herself estranged from their difficult, stereotypically Jewish mother. Parental relations are always strained here, whether it's the parents who worry that their daughter doesn't like her odd birthday gift (""The Miami Dolphins"") or the soon-to-be retirees who sell off everything from the family home (""The Air of My Youth""). More of the same about adultery, goat cheese, and other modern foibles.