cover image Into Love and Out Again

Into Love and Out Again

Elinor Lipman. Viking Books, $15.95 (194pp) ISBN 978-0-670-81193-9

Modern domestic lifewhen to have children, whom to marryis the subject of most of these 16 stories. Though Lipman, whose fiction has appeared in many magazines, displays a sense of humor and occasional streak of originality, she does not take any of her ideas or her characters very far. Seven of the stories chart the relationship of Tim and Hannah: Tim falls in love with Hannah while standing behind her on line at the Motor Vehicles Registry. When she turns around, he learns that she is nine months pregnant, but completely unattached (she had a business-trip fling with the baby's father). They fall in love and out again several timeshence the book's titlebut in spite of their attempts to remain apart from social codes, both are merely cardboard figures, symbols rather than real people. The most thought-provoking tale, ""Thick and Thin,'' about the relationship between self-esteem and weight, is so brief it undermines its own potential. Though some of the stories do begin to touch on human truths, they remain slight and, sadly, forgettable. (March)