BOOKS: NO MERCY

STORIES THAT FOCUS ON THE STRUGGLES OF LOST SOULS

Robert Stone's fans have had to content themselves, so far, with the five novels that he has published sporadically over the past 30 or so years. A sixth is scheduled to arrive in bookstores this fall, but the wait should be soothed by Bear and His Daughter (Houghton Mifflin; 222 pages; $24), a collection of six Stone short stories that have appeared in magazines plus a previously unpublished novella that gives the new volume its name. All seven pieces demonstrate, in concentrated form, the qualities that make Stone's novels so harrowing, exhilarating and impossible to forget.

In Under the Pitons, for...

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