Fifteen brightly scornful short stories, circa 1915-19, by a youthful German author who went on to become famous as the mysterious ""B. Traven"" (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre). There's a spirited, matter-of-fact occult story about a doctor who marries a doomed woman whom he first sees as a ghost; the title story is a mythic trench-warfare tale of WW I No Man's Land, with a lovesick German soldier who seeks death but remains utterly bullet-proof because of his genuine lack of belligerence or nationalism. And there are several satiric stories of creative artists facing the crude public arena: in ""A Writer of Serpentine Shrewdness,"" a novelist writes a 249-word book, has it printed with one word per page, and thus earns himself a page-turning bestseller; in ""Originality,"" a much-criticized actor tears up his script, shuffles the lines, and is soon hailed as a theatrical genius; and in ""My Visit to the Writer Pguwlkschrj Rnfajbzxlquy,"" a titanic, reclusive Joycean talent turns out to be a madman scribbling in an asylum--to oceanic public adulation. True, many of the message points are hammered home too obviously. And the same theme seems to repeat again and again from story to story. But there is intriguing, lively work here, quite different, stylistically, from ""Traven's"" bleached, proletarian writings. And, with an introduction by Will Wyatt (The Man Who Was B. Traven), it may interest those curious about European WW I fiction as well as the Sierra Madre aficionados.