Yuri Kazakov's pedigree as part of the bumper crop of under-40 Soviet writers, (Yovtushenko, Voznesensky, Askenov are others), shows him properly spurning the ""positive hero"", partinost psychology and boy-meets-tractor ""realism""--in short, all the Stalinist staples. His stories- the first to hit these shores- have reputedly set the old guard on its ear: the lonely, the lustful and the losers wander in and out the landscape like DP's, and though sometimes the scenery is reasonably sunny and the prose always leanly lyrical, dribs and drabs of emotional squalor run over everything like samovar stains over the hands. Now so ""modern"" an atmosphere may betoken ""truth"" to the awakening young around Moscow and Leningrad, but for the West it's a different matter. If one excised all the contemporary references, seven year plans, four letter words, blue jeans, hangovers- these tales might seem like talented, touching, untroubling imitations of Chekhov and Turgenev. Of course, Kazakov, born in 1927, and clearly critical of certain aspects of Communist pomposity and promptings (the only world he knows) is also clearly a born writer. But his 22 journeyman specimens should be endorsed not as political pawns but as the moving, if minor, descriptions of desperation within the young and old. These range from their social and sexual frustrations to the spiritual regeneration which always bobs up like blini in the best of Kazakov's world.