Waldrop, not as well known as he should be, is among the most important writers, translators and publishers of avant-garde literature in our time. Like his ""fictional memoir,"" Light While There Is Light (1993), Waldrop's latest book is for the most part autobiographical. His general subject--memory, the mother of the muses--is classical, while the form, mixing poetry and prose fragments, is more experimental. The result is a highly engaging and eclectic exploration of the follies of memory. There are short anecdotes involving Waldrop's kooky elderly neighbors; asides concerning violins, friends and teeth; and aphoristic phrases such as ""isolated, the most casual scene becomes formal."" Although there is little sense of progression (narrative or otherwise), Waldrop's light touch and understated humor cast a sustained spell. The opening sequence of prose fragments begins with Waldrop listening to a lecturer who tells a story about a man whose heavy burdens were lifted when the bottom of the basket dropped out and who continues to refer ""to enlightenment as the experience of `dropping our bottoms.'"" Waldrop knows his insights are provisional, which is why he calls them ""Stand-Ins."" Perhaps in explanation of his project, he writes: ""I'm trying to remember what I will be""; we are privileged to listen in as he does so. (Sept.) FYI: Waldrop is married to Rosmarie Waldrop, whose Another Language was reviewed in Forecasts, Apr. 28.