Raw emotion, exquisite story construction, an ability to defy categorization by using whatever "genre" suits his artistic needs are the hallmarks that cause Shiner's latest collection to... shine. Much like T.C. Boyle in his short work, Shiner invokes a wry magic in exploring human frailty and strengths. Moving assuredly through all time zones, he taps into a rich vein. Highlights include "White City," a historical fantasy in which a fanatical Tesla banishes night from the world; "Gold," another historical conceit about Lafitte's buried treasure on Galveston Island; "Match," a brilliant examination of father/son conflict; "Sticks" and the title story, both of which analyze the pain of mistaking sex for love; "Steam Engine Time," a fantasy not only about music but about being at the right place at the wrong time; "Castles Made of Sand," another meditation on love, also echoed by two short shorts, "My Girlfriend's Dog" and "Language." Also notable is a new story, a fable suitable for adults and children, "The Tale of Mark the Bunny," whose plea, "Give what you can. Take what you need," certainly hits home. The other stories, equally entertaining, never miss a beat in this harmonious gathering, hitting every dark and light note needed. Never before collected in one volume, these stories show why Shiner, a World Fantasy Award winner and author of the outstanding novels Say Goodbye and Glimpses, as well as editor of the pacifist anthology When the Music's Over, has become a virtuoso word musician. (Nov.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.