Carlson (The News of the World, 1987; Truants, 1981; Betrayed by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1977) writes stories in High Workshop Style: odd frameworks, scant forward motion, pearled with mundane perceptions of gladness and gloom that all come across as post- adolescent: ``I love to fly,'' the narrator of the title story confides--``I always sit in the window and press the corner of my forehead against the plastic glass. I can feel the little bumps in my skull which are full of ideas and I move my head slightly. It kind of hurts in a nice way. Today my skull is full of sex. I'm trying to remember sex.'' This story has its moments--a young couple, parents of small children: their exhaustion, their deferred life--but is dragged on long past the point at which its middleweight anecdotes support it as a tale. Similarly in ``The Golf Center at Ten Acres,'' a story about an ex-touring-pro who rescues his failing life by turning disaster into novelty, Carlson reaches for a rueful philosophy that is snagged by the story's overlength. The fey humorous pieces included here--like a single mom, in ``On The U.S.S. Fortitude,'' living with her family alone on an aircraft carrier--are mostly outlined whimsies; and only in ``Blazo''--a man going to Alaska to see where his grown son died- -does Carlson seem enough interested in his characters, as opposed to his own shiny voicings, to make for involving fiction. Bland stuff.