These 30 stories and story-length excerpts from novels are social fiction, but different, as the editor points out in his introduction, from the proletarian or social realist writing of the 1930s. He calls the recent writing about work ""neo-realism"" and ""private rather than partisan."" The book will serve the speculations of the social or literary historian, or, indeed, anyone interested in what it has felt like to be an American these last dozen, unraveling years. It also is a compendium of excellent--or mostly excellent--fiction by such well-known authors as John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Wilfrid Sheed, and Bernard Malamud, and by those who should be better known, such as Lynda Shore, Alan Goldfein, Edith Konecky, and Ira Sadoff. The jobs, which range from male prostitution (with fading women in Atlantic City) to motherhood, tend to be unrewarding, fraught with conflict, or downright degrading--without the occasional glimpses of the nobility of work found in the 1930s. But whatever the difference between the two decades, both were in the grip of anger.