A sensitive first novel about a hot topic--how a nice, eminently marriageable young man conquers his fear of commitment, without resorting to conga lines Ö la Iron John. Sam is part of the yuppie underclass, a bookstore clerk who lives in an integrated section of Atlanta and works half- heartedly on a novel. His significant other, with whom he's been living for the past four years, is Kate, a social worker and dramatic sort of woman who says things like ``How do we know we aren't stars to each other....Couldn't we all be dead....How do we know that the person we see isn't already history?'' Kate's also got baby lust bad--the cause of this couple's subterranean troubles, which erupt when their friend's toddler falls down the stairs while Sam's babysitting. Soon after, Kate walks out simply because she can't get what she wants from Sam, leaving him discombobulated, self-loathing, and depressed. When he sees her again several months later, she's pregnant by a doctor who wants her to have an abortion. Instead, she returns to Sam, who, despite a quick fling at a Halloween party, is willing to take her back--baby and all. On second thought, maybe Sam does need Iron John. Surely he needs something, though the author doesn't manage to convince us that it's Kate. Hays is a talented writer with an ability to create real characters and communicate intimately. Maybe next time out he'll give us a story that really goes somewhere instead of settling down in an easy chair.