This short first novel about an erudite couple who live in West Texas doesn't claim much for itself, and therefore doesn't disappoint. It's very slight, however, and its spare prose style emphasizes rather than fills out that slightness. Lupe and Sta?? live on the Little Plata River and read Conrad together. Lupe is a beautiful Mexican artist who teaches at the university. Sta??, a Polish ÇmigrÇ 20 years her senior, is also an artist, but lately his work has given way to an obsession with the stock market ("like harnessing the tides") and with Gosia, a gallery owner he was involved with for some 20 years (". . .too similar to live with each other, but they had to have each other"). Meanwhile, he has premonitions of death and waits for his demise; and Lupe--the point-of-view alternates--longs for children, but Sta?? doesn't want them. After a trip with Sta?? to Panna Maria (Polish settlements below San Antonio), Lupe herself becomes obsessive about Gosia (who plans to show Lupe's work) and about Vassily (Sta??'s friend, "a music producer with a sideline in cocaine"). Gosia, a kind of femme fatale, seduces Lupe: "Gosia's teeth seemed to touch Lupe's very nerves." But then Macieji, another ÇmigrÇ, spills the beans to Sta?? (Sta??: "The more time I spend alone, the more I feel I am disintegrating"), who calls his broker and his analyst. Lupe and Sta??, however, have read to each other and shared thoughts about books (Sta??: "the dean in The Dean's December is the only guy who's really intelligent in all of American fiction"), so they go to a marriage together and end the book making love under a bridge. A low-key romantic interlude, pleasantly evocative but too terse and offhand at times for its own good.