From illustrator-author Ducornet (The Jade Cabinet, 1993, etc.), nearly 60 stories, some previously published--Iowa Review, Canadian Fiction Magazine, etc.--that resemble a vitrine stuffed with curiosities, grotesqueries, and erotic paraphernalia. Written with great verve and a tirelessly original imagination, these tales, though often quite brilliant in their evocation of an individual sensation or idea, cumulatively pall, if not exhaust. Many only a page or two long, a rare few explore more fully Ducornet's preoccupations with religious hypocrisy, sexual repression, and metamorphosis. In the ``Nipple,'' a middle-aged man whose mother has just died decides to marry but then finds all the comfort he needs in a bachelor-party gift of a baby-bottle; in ``Luggage,'' a grieving widower goes on a shopping spree, then says of his wife that ``by dying you have ripened me and deepened me, and in your own wifely and cunning way you led me to the weekend bag'' that will hold all his new purchases; and in ``Bazar,'' set in North Africa, a repressed homosexual who believes ``his life has no other object but spiritual progress'' tries to forget that he has seduced and murdered a young Arab boy. Other long stories are ``Missy'' (a psychotic little girl enacts the symbolic death of a schoolmate by eviscerating and quartering Gossey, ``a small brown, rabbittish'' toy) and ``Outer Space'' (Boo tries to foresee his disturbed mother's moods yet also lead a normal childhood). Memorable shorter tales include ``The Double''--a woman grows a companion from her own severed feet; ``Parasites''--a madman is obsessed with parasites; and ``Grace''--another woman is consoled by the memory of her hair being plaited. With their relentless emphasis on the bizarre, the nasty, and the surreal, tales that provoke and disturb--but generally remain little more than cleverly executed curiosities.