Parental advice, its instability and hysterical echoes, figures as a theme in a lot of Stern's fiction (Other Men's Daughters, A Father's Words, etc.)--which in its omnivorous, swarming, compressed, choppy, buzzing stylistics sometimes seems itself like a species of advice trying to camouflage itself as reality. Lessons learned and/or denied figure in the quickened, scattershot stories here (and in the 20-year-old lively novella, ``Veni, Vidi...Wendt,'' originally published in 1970 in the Stern omnibus, 1968). In ``Shares,'' which Stern calls a ``novel in ten pieces,'' a family named Share finds itself unconsciously caught up in a rage to divest itself of its own innate intellectual nobility- -a task Stern works out in other of his pieces, too, such as ``The Degeneration of Tenderness,'' the tale of the effect of a psychoanalyst's professional indiscretion on his children; and in ``In A Word, Trowbridge''--about a famous painter's lonely daughter. To read Stern in the short form is, as here, very much to peruse a swatch-book: it's a jumpy, somewhat headachy experience. But just about every hue of human anxiety uncommonly finds its own small pattern there, too, and the total effect seems more than the sum of its parts.