Deft, confidently styled stories from the author of Descent of Man and Budding Prospects--in a variety of hip, serio-comic modes. Several of Boyle's new concoctions are impersonations, evocations of real or prototypical figures from the past: in ""The Hector Quesadilla Story,"" an aged Latin pitcher for the Dodgers suffers through an extra-innings game that parallels his long, hard life; in ""Stones In My Passway, Hellhound On My Trail,"" blues pioneer Robert Johnson meets his ballad-like death; and ""Rupert Beersley and the Beggar Master of Sivani-Hoota"" is an affectionate double-parody of Conan Doyle and Kipling. Elsewhere, the approach is more whimsical and sit-commy--with a secret 1950s love-affair for Eisenhower and Mrs. Khrushchev (""Ike and Nina""), trendy whale-watching, or ""The New Moon Party"" (a political/astronomical blunder). Boyle also satirizes middle-class America, its fears and fads, especially in the title story: bourgeois kids, hooked on the working-class war-cries of Bruce Springsteen, wind up scaring themselves half to death. And in two stories Boyle's glossy cartoon comedy also contains affecting, human complication: ""All Shook Up,"" about a pathetic Elvis imitator and his young wife's yearnings, becomes a subtle study in fidelity and commitment; and ""Caviar"" gets both laughs and deeper feelings from the subject of surrogate parenting. Readers familiar with Boyle's previous work will feel some dâ€šjâ€¦ vu this time around. They also may wish for more depth and less of a smorgasbord: Boyle remains a versatile, impressive comic technician--but one who hasn't yet found an individual voice to go along with his standout talent.