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From The CriticsAbsentee fathers, troubled mothers and emotionally seized young men populate this meditation on sexual identity. By far, the author is at his sharpest and most compelling when writing of adolescence: In "The Dress," which conjures the sweetly moving 1998 film My Life in Pink, a "girl-boy" is mesmerized by a trunk of old gowns, while in "Regime," a chubby preteen with shameful desires almost starves himself out of existence. The natural ease and warmth displayed in these stories is less evident in many of the other tales. For example, the dire, unsatisfying story "Chuck Paa," which opens the collection, is an unsavory narrative about a pitiable young man. It shares with several other pieces the tendency to lag and occasionally over-explain, to give certain actions undeserved significance. Though perhaps a little too neat, the book ends on a gratifying note, with the concluding story's young hero leaving his shame behind.