Books: Loose Ends FAST LANES

by Jayne Anne Phillips Dutton; 148 pages; $15.95

Home means no freedom; freedom means no home. That is the dilemma facing all the tumbledown souls who drift through the peeling Springsteen homes and long, open highways of Jayne Anne Phillips' fiction. Castoffs from the counterculture, sleeping on floors or living in cars, unsure of where they stand in time or space, few of them know how to keep jobs, let alone take care of themselves. Phillips' characters lack purpose and authority. Their world is fluid, but they do not quite go under. They simply float.

Following the intricate expansiveness of her much praised novel Machine Dreams, the gifted Phillips,...