Books: Trajectories Rock Springs

by Richard Ford Atlantic Monthly Press 235 pages; $17.95

"This is not a happy story. I warn you." So begins one of the ten taut, laconic tales that make up Rock Springs, and the same admonition could serve equally well for the other nine. All of them concern characters who suspect that they may be helpless spectators of their own lives. They move about, theoretically of their own volition, but the trajectories they plot sink inexorably downward, beyond their control. Muses one of them: "There was always a gap between my plan and what happened, and I only responded to things as they came along and hoped I wouldn't get...