The eight stories in this debut volume vary greatly in style but not in subject. They're all about the things women will do for love, with few of Huss's female protagonists finding much happiness as a result. The one exception seems to be the lesbian couple in ""Three Gold Chains,"" whose S&M revelry is interrupted by a young burglar, an event they eventually translate into heightened sexual thrills. Huss punctuates this and other stories with pretentious quotations and authorial intrusions. ""Barrier Methods,"" also padded with the words of others, concerns a Ph.D. student in classics whose recent abortion alters her feelings for her husband; she finds greater satisfaction masturbating with a copy of Ovid clamped to her nipple. Huss's prose experiments mostly wander when they don't plain baffle. In ""Triptych,"" a woman learns to breathe fire as a way to avenge molestation by a museum guard. ""Rubber Thongs,"" written in different voices, records the passions of a woman who works with the handicapped, and ends with the nonsense words of her patients. The much-anthologized ""Coupon for Blood"" is a weird but gripping account of a bus ride from hell, where strangers' lives briefly intersect. In the more conventional title story, a recently deflowered 19-year-old leaves home to work on her uncle's tobacco farm rather than face her parents. ""The Pastime The Pastime"" meanders through the memories of a woman whose husband is dying from lung cancer. Equally maudlin, ""What Iris Wanted"" is the story of a black grandmother's attempt to fulfill the wishes of her white daughter-in-law, dead from cancer. Beginner's tales, best left in the small magazines in which some of them first appeared.