An intense, edgy, boldly candid and irrepressibly sardonic voice drives the 21 interlinked stories in this collection, mainly narrated by the eponymous Gloria Bronski. Exiled from Manhattan to a recovery community in Minnesota, Glory minces no words in confessing that she is a former drug addict and alcoholic. She's also HIV positive (from a liaison with a Puerto Rican air-conditioner repairman), chronically depressed, and aching for sex, love and connection. The self-described ""Jewish child of professional intellectuals,"" she announces her obsessive neediness for approval (""my disgusting need to be liked"")-- especially by men. Glory is one of those characters who grab hold of your elbow and pour out their heart in nonstop talk. Her monologues pulse with irony and black humor; constantly cracking wise, she betrays her vulnerability only obliquely. Time and again, Glory's self-destructive behavior--in East Coast private schools, from which she is expelled, and in the streets and bedrooms of seamy New York neighborhoods--testifies to her paradoxical temptation to act badly, even when she's close to rock-bottom. Perversely, she rebuffs her family's love and concern--but not their money, which always rescues her. In the story ""The Bride,"" she admits that ""males have always had incredible power over me.... From nursery school on, I craved their love and approval in the way I would later come to crave alcohol, cocaine, and opiates."" But after brief spurts of chemically induced euphoria, all she has earned is a lifetime of sadness. As she progresses through Minnesota's treatment centers, however, Glory does achieve recovery, and the tender, burgeoning possibility of a hopeful life. Carter's stories are best when Glory's voice has center stage; the several third-person narratives lack the ring of authority. But her prose is everywhere supple and compelling, and this collection announces her as a brave new talent. (Sept.) FYI: Carter's literary credentials are impressive; she is the daughter of writer Anne Roiphe and the sister of Katie Roiphe.