Following The Sheltering Sky, which caused a literary furor and had a popular success as well last spring, this is a collection of short stories in which a rarefied, ""twittering machine"" brutality is coupled with a tactile sense of place and atmosphere for a group of characters in unmercifully close contact. On the circumference, there is always a macabre exterior decoration of giant crabs and spiders, of hot nights and nightmare noises. The Delicate Prey is a masterful creation of a flat desert and an unprecedented torture scene which works its way up through and past insanity. Call at Corazon describes a night journey through a narrow canal during which a man loses his alcoholic wife. In Colombo, a young student, Aileen, directs her hostility at her mother's lover, a woman. In The Fourth Day out from Santa Cruz a lonely sailor establishes his rapport with the crew by torturing a bird; and there is the boy who disrupts a village by his assiduous homosexual acts, a man who acts out a dream in which he kills, a professor whose tongue is cut out, etc. etc. Horrific, unpleasant, sadistic, these stories just avoid the deep end, but are unqualifyingly talented. For a special audience.