Everything, every trifle will be valuable and meaningful" as someone's "future recollection"--this line is a validation for many of these thirteen stories written between 1924 and 1935 for various Russian emigre publications. It comes from one of the most fragmentary ones, "A Guide to Berlin," which Nabokov, in one of his prefatory annotations, describes as the "trickiest", although it could not be more simple. In fact all of these are devoid of the devices and diddles to come. Two return to his childhood through the miserable boy Peter, stigmatized as a "poseur" on "A Bad Day" when he visits his cousins; still miserable in "Orache" (in translation the word means ache), the scanted child of an ill and absent mother, an absent and negligent father. In between the several incidental to forgettable trifles, 'the stories pair off almost too easily. There are two awkward confrontations in Berlin that connect with far more feeling: one between two brothers, long out of touch, perhaps even strangers; the other between a son who's been everywhere during the last seven years before he goes to find his once elegant mother, now not only a displaced person but an aged, anxious, restless, tawdry woman. Both "Christmas" and "A Busy Man" again return to Russia to reveal the magus at his dazzling best--the writing is singularly beautiful, framing the melancholy, death-directed, solitary reconnaissances of two men trapped between the present and the past and between the present and the anonymity ahead. Up to then, however, the collection offers only occasional reading for the complete Nabokovian--small butterflies which just take wing as retrospect or in anticipation.