Books: Rome on Wry

MORE ROMAN TALES by Alberto Moravia. 254 pages. Farrar, Straus. $4.75.

The slight, polished pieces in this latest assembly of Alberto Moravia's fiction illustrate one of publishing's awkward truths—that while there is a good deal to say for the short story, the short-story collection is a bestiary that should not be. Not that the stories are bad, but that they resemble each other like so many peachpit monkeys.

Moravia's pattern is distinctive but invariable: a Roman lowlife, male, gives a fourth-drink, first-person account of some minor downfall, failing to see its subtleties and thereby allowing...

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