Name the catastrophe--stillbirth, homosexual rape, suicide, terminal cancer--and this little book hands it over, but by way of pithy narration and dialogue that's bright and sharp as a good sit-com. Thus the effect that's produced is one of severe displacement. John and Catlin Moses are a city couple. John, an editor for a vanity publishing house, feels like ""Dorothy Malone caught up in a Sam Peckinpah world""--attracting problems like a garbage compactor drawing roaches. Catlin, on the other hand, is all pepper to John's salt; ""plucky"" and rueful, her search for freedom is on full blast at ali hours; she's always leaving John and reappearing. When she dies at the end, the death is John's final disaster and Catlin's ultimate drop-out: a black bag closed. Rivers-Coffey is quite good; there's no sogginess here, no let-down of a fast and sharp laughing-to-keep-from-crying. But the bravado of the book finally seems a little false; the contrast between the shattering events and the chipmunk style that relates them is a bit anesthetizing. Clearly talented, it's slightly too willful a performance--it skids.