Thirteen stories, most depicting the various confusions of the clever and the young. Richter’s characters are usually young, and the better part of these carry their youth as heavily as they would a family curse they had not quite succeeded in forgetting. Rootless and ostensibly amoral, they sometimes succeed in accidentally uncovering some meaning in their lives—just as the teenaged narrator of “The Beauty Treatment” finds herself unexpectedly reconciled to the venomous classmate who once slashed her across the face with a razor. Similarly, the very Goth narrator of “Goal 666” finds that the musical style of his Doom/Black Metal band undergoes a sudden and completely unexpected transformation (i.e., it becomes melodic and harmonious) once all of the members have fallen in love with the young woman who joins it. “Prom Night” is precisely that: the recollection of a dance attended by several very stoned teenagers, at least one of whom comes to suspect by the end of the evening that she may once have been young and innocent after all. There’s also a certain amount of art-world surrealism: “Sally’s Story” describes the art career of a family dog who becomes famous for her sculptures and performance art, while “Rats Eat Cats” is the grant application (addressed to an arts committee) of an eccentric lady who lives alone with dozens of cats and makes sculptures (which she eventually sets aflame in performance work) out of their fur. The title story describes a typically modern take on the blind-date-from-hell routine, in which a San Francisco dominatrix acquires a slave through an Internet chat-room and eventually agrees to meet with him in person—with all the usual blind-date disappointments, and then some. A bit self-consciously arty, but a debut that’s nonetheless saved from its own pretensions by a good ear for dialogue (——Do you think we—re going to remember this, Bucky?” “We can get our picture taken,” he said. “Then it won—t matter” “) and a strong eye for character.