The people in this second collection of 11 engrossing stories are teetering on the outer limits of sanity. With dexterity and skill, Burgin exposes their excessive anxiety and their poignant attempts to cope. The narrator in ``Rats'' sums up the feeling of most of Burgin's characters: ``Life is certainly terrifying.'' In an attempt to deal with his own fear, the narrator of ``The Spirit of New York'' spends his spare time scaring women, jumping out of doorways or from behind parked cars late at night. The impossibility of connecting in a positive way with another human being imbues all of the stories. In ``Silver Screen'' a mother and son are locked in a destructive relationship; in another story the narrator cannot maintain a friendship with a loved boyhood friend. Burgin traces the lives of his people as they indulge and pursue their compulsions, and never lets himself or the reader ignore their terror and their loneliness.-- Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J.