Imported from England, this fourth edition of a revived short-fiction series is a satisfying sampler of 14 original stories, mostly by British writers but including enough international selections to give the book a sturdy cosmopolitan flavor. The pieces range from a few hundred words (Augusto Monterroso's ""The Eclipse,"" from Guatemala, about a friar sacrificed on a Mayan altar during an eclipse) to some ten thousand (Laura Kalpakian's ""A Christmas Cordial,"" from America but as English as anything here, about the bittersweet life of an Englishwoman who ""read cookbooks the way other women read novels""). Most selections, though, are 10 to 20 pages--with notables like Jeanette Winterson's ""Orion,"" a delicate retelling of and elaboration on Greek myth; Marcos Aquinis' ""Short Story Contest,"" a splendid satire; Desmond Hogan's ""Guy 'Micko' Delaney,' gritty and workaday; and two rich family stories centered on women at the end of their lives: ""The House of Funerals"" (Lawrence Scott) and ""The Garden"" (Monica Furlong). The stories here tend to take the long view, compressing a great deal of time and experience into a few pages. A couple are precious or affected, but mostly they're a refreshing break from the moment-by-moment, present-tense minimalism so pervasive in the US. In all, an interesting alternative to available American anthologies.