A first collection of 17 stories that's very much a first collection: some top-drawer touching stories, told from both male and female perspectives, and some cluttered or sparse pieces--all mostly about loneliness and the distance between people. Mood is a priority here. In ""A Circular Shore,"" for instance, a narrator describes Rachel, five, deserted by her mother, in delicate pastel colors and finishes with an Ann Beattie-like summarizing image: ""We both move, weightless, in very small circles, like tandem moons around a star."" Sometimes such a straining after emotional resonance comes off; at other times, it feels precious. Often, the difference depends upon the significance of the story's occasion: In ""To Be At Home,"" Binstock is moving because she manages to bring together a divorced couple on the occasion of the death of the ex-husband's mother. The man and woman must thus deal with their own feelings and also minister to the exhusband's father in a situation where ""the world had changed overnight."" In ""Birdland,"" a narrator alone in his wife's hometown visits a woman too much alone who was once, briefly, his wife's lover, and the possibility of a one-night stand with her forces him to define the limits of his life. But others, like ""Cheaters and Liars, Robbers and Fools,"" are too slight; the latter sketches a portrait of a divorced woman who ""feels that a shimmering curtain, rolled up to the sky, is about to descend...."" ""Willie,"" much too long, is about a narrator on a new job as a technical writer who is intrigued with Willie: office politics and slice-of-life stretch out for pages without illuminating anything. But ""Hall of Fame,"" a memoir about a father centered on baseball, retrieves meaning from a chaos of instances. Binstock has a deft touch at best--but is too interested in withholding vital information for the sake of a minimalist aesthetic.