Given the title of this hushed, occasionally monotonous novella collection, readers will look forward to some Jamesian conflict between the rule of reason and the ruses of the heart. Unfortunately, Kinsman (Water from the Moon) confounds this expectation by presorting his characters according to rigid codes of conduct. We have good characters (erotically charged young men like Chris, the gay porn star of ""The Death of Christopher Moran""), bad characters (philandering, handsome, very hetero fathers) and irreproachable characters (literary lesbians and victimized wives). The best novella of the four, ""Madame du Barry and the Boys,"" avoids this fault, but its account of a student's year abroad in Grenoble, France, and his awakening to sexual love sounds dangerously close to a ""How I spent my junior year abroad"" theme paper. For some readers, the intrinsic interest of gay love in the 1970s (a decade that is to queer culture what the Elizabethan age is to English literature) will excuse awkward prose that, in its apparent efforts at Jamesian mutedness, is less attractive than its subject. (Jan.) FYI: The New Hampshire Writers and Publishers Project gave Kinsman its award for Outstanding Emerging Writing, 1994-96.