Drue Heinz winner Wetherell (The Man who Loved Levittown, 1985) has a flair for elegant, surreal parables, and many of these nine stories work as highly polished fables--though the rest, gimmicky or too contrived, lack any real resonance. "The Next Sound You Hear" is an epic confrontation between Dr. Weird, the most popular D.J. in New Hampshire, and Terry Silva, a devotee of silence and classical sounds who "didn't want listeners." Weird sabotages everything, including Silva's records, while the story works on its own terms and as metaphor. "What Peter Saw," more realistic but equally evocative, concerns a boy's coming-of-age: the Geralds, "a good Catholic family from Providence," visit Cape Cod in 1968 with their daughter and her young husband, due soon to go to Vietnam; when the newlyweds "borrow" Peter's room, his voyeuristic initiation concludes with an image of heart-stricken lovers torn apart by circumstances. In "Brooklyn Wept," a clever first-person telling, the Dodgers' captain makes a bet with his wife: she'll stay with him if he wins the Series. Instead, he blows it because, older, he's distracted by the texture of experience, too large of mind for the game. The story's parody of tough-guy detective rhetoric is a delight. Other tales here, though, are less successful: the title story, set on a ferryboat off Cape Cod at the end of WW II, is absurd and parochial; "Remembering Mr. C," in which a Holy Rosary lady finds an epiphany while touring the Calvin Coolidge home, is more about local color than anything else; and the "Hundred Year War," in which a Vietnamese cabbie, harangued by a bigoted dispatcher, meets his end at the Vietnam War Memorial, is forced and artificial. Several fables that cohere marvelously--and a handful of inventive throwaways that are cleverly textured.