A twenty-years' sampling of short stories by the prominent Italian whose work combines' and magnifies the less hospitable features of Borges, Kafka, and Nabokov. Landolfi's tales take place in a circumscribed gothic solitude where desire and reason grind like thumbscrews and the narrators study cruelty, both suffered and inflicted, with an exquisite clinical singlemindedness. This is the purlieu of full-blown romanticism, glorified madness, proliferating monsters, which disdainfully excludes the gentler and more commonplace affections. Detachment, then, means solipsism and feverish introspection; the sentences roil and the fantasies metastasize unrelieved by any external concern, stylistic or social. The tales have an undeniable brilliance, however, and the mood of malignant intensity is sustained. With their perverse love murders, disfigurations, and unreeled iridescent gut, these may be considered masterpieces, but of a decidedly decadent genre.