Books: Come-Ons

MY HARD BARGAIN by Walter Kirn

Knopf; 145 pages; $18.95

In his first book, a collection of 13 short stories, Walter Kirn demonstrates a flair for opening sentences. He understands the allure of the odd: "The whole way down to Phoenix in the car, my job was to tranquilize the dog." He knows firearms are likely to arouse interest: "Luckily, I had a gun hidden away." And he senses that puzzlements invite curiosity: "He'd always liked motels even better than sleeping at home -- they provided the essentials and left a man to himself; but in New York City they'd only...

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