A first collection of valid, vulnerable short stories--just as much of an uncertainty as the theme with which more than half of them deal--what to do with the young woman of thirty-odd whose specific margins as a wife or mother have given way to the blurred edges of oncoming middle age. Who is she--a problem for Louise Marshall who writes one successful short story, attends a writer's conference, returns home more confused than ever to a breakdown. . . or another member of her suburban (California) circle reduced to tears on a bleak diet of Metrecal and Enovid. . . or (the most experimental, technically, of these) the aging bar butterfly in Ciao. Several involve mothers and sons, particularly the insuperable seven-year-old of Clancy Wants an Orangoutan and a dutch project older, displaced, Russian-Jewish immigrants--especially the old grandfather Chaim Yankel who goes for his visit to his ""Yankee"" daughter in California to find that ""here alone am I."" Most of them really deal with loss--of self, of purpose, of place-altogether exposed, no doubt experiential, and quite real.