Fans of Cormier's gripping, dimensional thrillers will be disappointed with this collection of nine tepidly sentimental stories. Most are about father-child or father-teenager relationships. Most deal more-or-less with a poor French Canadian boy in late 1930s New England, or his middle-class adult self in the late '60s and early '70s, or his teenage children in the same period. (More-or-less because the same names and backgrounds recur, but not consistently. For example, Ellen is the contemporary wife in most, but her husband, the main character, is sometimes Jerry [as was the French Canadian boy], sometimes not.) In one story the son, Mike, visits his grandmother in a nursing home. Because of his mustache (controversial at home) she mistakes him for her husband, also Mike, and thus reveals to the young Mike an old marital misunderstanding. In another story a divorced father fails his little girl by not accompanying her on a scarey amusement park fide. In others, the father's sympathy with a son's jilted girlfriend and a daughter's abandoned boyfriend is mixed with his own regrets of time passing. Cormier prefaces each story with an account of how it came about--in almost every case, from an incident in his own life. But, alas, the stories don't distill and amplify the material. In the case of the amusement park ride, the real experience seems more subtle and affecting than the story that was made of it.