In this disenchanted collection of 27 short stories, Robert Lowry (The Big Cage, etc.) is obsessed by the struggles of lonely, physically and mentally crippled people trying to rise above their surroundings and the conditions that produced them. Helplessly one watches the childlike cruelties that they inflict on each other, or follow Lowry's social commentary as- in Ten Questions- two unemployed men daydream wistfully: ""We'll pass a law... you're born fully employed in the United States of America and whatever you do from them on is your business... That sure will end the entire employment problem all right.."" Even when Lowry deals with more affluent people they are victims of their own isolation. Rare moments of enchantment occur as in Autumn Encounter but even here the romantic moment falters when a young man's love meets only with a girl's unfeeling acceptance of it. Sparingly written, these stories burn with a kind of nervous energy. But the result of all this accumulated misery, and at times unpleasant preoccupation with murder of violence, is to numb where it should stir indignation or sympathy.