The Iowa Short Fiction Award winner's debut offers much take-off time but no lift. Of the 21 pieces here, few will remain long in the reader's memory--and fewer be moving--due in part to the author's tendency to identify but not flesh her characters, and in part to the book's chronic lack of atmosphere. Gl(infinity)ck, oddly, seems often to undercut her own purposes by choosing stories that aren't really stories (as in ""A Cuban Girl,"" where the character acknowledges that ""there was in her life no dramatic change, no specific alteration""), or by having her characters reject the stories they've just told as having been nothing anyhow--""his name meant no more to me than any name,"" one says at the end of an affair story (""We Never Look Up""); ""it wasn't really all that wonderful to have found Martin,"" announces another, in the title story. At times Gl(infinity)ck tries for a tightly artificial satire in the Barthelme mode, as in ""Gone Fishing""--about trying to land a man (""and I said to him, 'My heart is broken,' and he said, 'What can I tell you? Men are no good' "")--but, lacking richer content, the result is thin and simply coy. Now and then a touching passage does go by, but without being noticed or making anything happen; as if the author sensed an inertia in her stories, her narrators increasingly declare themselves to possess qualities the reader only wishes would in fact be dramatized--one says she's a ""rat"" (""Essence and Quintessence""), another ""amoral"" and ""predatory"" (""Amor Fati""), a third a ""ferreter-out of things, the one that brings them up to the surface."" The very thing one wishes for. But what keeps on coming is more talking prose from characters who don't change, have little inner life, and aren't moving. Oddly freeze-dried stories, wanting water, air, movement, and the naturalness of life.