Six stories by Israeli writer Hareven, whose bone-white allegorical novels--The Miracle Hater, Prophet--have had nonmodern settings. Here, though, with the semi-exception of one dreamscape story, ``Twilight,'' contemporary Israel is the venue. Hareven writes in ``Loneliness'' and in ``Two Hours on the Road'' of sudden, surprising infatuations by middle-aged women; and in ``My Straw Chairs'' of loneliness triumphant. Translated by different hands (and, with the exception of Hillel Halkin's efforts, not especially well: studded with garbled idioms), the stories in general have a sharp, overly hurried tone--as though Hareven repeatedly lost patience with not coming quickly enough to the stories' points. One piece, the longest of them all, ``A Matter of Identity,'' about a Russian woman's wartime ``marriage'' to a Jew and the contemporary Israeli identity difficulties of their daughter when she seeks to emigrate, is pregnant with comedy and tragedy both--but frustrates as it loses many of its narrative opportunities by the pace of its headlong drive. Hareven's novels are short and haunting. Her stories are only short.