Followers of Miss Gilliatt's movie reviews in The New Yorker have been charmed-to-alarmed by her apparent disinclination to keep her eye exclusively on the silver screen. Darting through conjecture and with side trips for popcorn precocity, Miss Gilliatt enjoys a dazzling divergency. Her characters, in these shrewdly structured short stories, are similarly plagued with a restless indirection, most of them tunnelling willynilly toward disaster. An obese, mysteriously talented comedian literally melts when finally separated from his comforting partner; a custom house clerk, deserted by his wife, tops off an alcoholic decline with a bumbling public spectacle; an abrasive female doctor turns her non-compassionate attention to tacking down the ties that bind; an aristocratic couple involve their children in intermarital psyche-assassination. Even the monstrously affirmative pit their wills against the inevitable: a ""redheaded"" bluestocking will not find death easy; a lively and famous old couple do not feel obliged to accept it; an aging intellectual strains against the natural drift of a daughter he has created in his image. There is also a witty study of a poet and his wife as they watch themselves spearing one another on TV. With a thin glittery style, a quicksilver wit, these are acerbic, entertaining charades.