Wishbone-thin and frail at best (""execrable"" the word usually kind Alfred Kazin once applied to all of Williams' fiction is too strong) these six short stories -- one from the early '40's, the others relatively recent -- of young girls, middle-aged women and old ladies whose cupboards are bare. Whether it is Home in the opener, irritated by her New York apartment-mate's bird, Wedgwood and Haviland: or a Principessa of 102 who commands the inventory of her l_ago Maggiore villa before dying; or a younger vassal or a bedridden, incontinent grandmother, or the ""poetess"" Sabbatha who is sure that death ""in solitude"" can be her only self-respecting fate (she remembers Sara Teasdale, not Sylvia Plath), etc. Thus we come to the prophetic line that ""there is a slight difference between the noun 'decade' and the adjective 'decayed'"" -- a greater difference than Williams acknowledges -- this is the ""decade"" of Sara Teasdale or one where the word ""fairy"" would not assault the eye as it does now. As for the younger ladies out of another time -- one is not ""Completed"" at twenty when she first menstruates to her horror -- another is entombed in the basement of St. Louis' Famous Barr. . . . Empty codas of existence usually justified by no more than malice or loneliness -- exterior decorated with a peacock tail feather here, or a dirty word -- lallocropia which one learns means dirty words. They are there, as well as the meaningless sexual escapes with which Mr. Williams endows his eight mortal ladies dispossessed.