Many of these brilliant, thoughtful stories are about people at unexpected moments of boiling over. Something is wrong in these characters' lives--a minister anchored in security who desperately needs his own sermon on fear; an adult ed. teacher questioning what he believes and teaches--their emotional well-being, as a whole, may not be in peril, but something is. And Baxter has the grace and patience to take us about as far as one could go into small yet poignant circumstances of recognizable characters. Baxter's prose is lilting yet potent: "He was ball-and-chained to his emotions. On some days the obsession weighed him down so heavily that he could not get out of bed to go to work without groaning and reaching for his hair, as if to drag himself up bodily for the working day." This passage from "Saul and Patsy are Pregnant" illustrates Baxter's gift for confusing the comic and tragic--should these be opposites, one thinks--after reading this stunning collection.