The title of John Updike's first short story collection, published when the author was twenty-seven, alludes to the old superstition that you should enter and leave a house by the same door. Thus John Nordholm, the alternately shy and brash hero of the first story here, is also the narrator of the last. Yet there is a sense in which all sixteen of these stories knock at the same door, a door that in ';Dentistry and Doubt' swings open, and in ';Toward Evening' remains shut. The characters are polite, nervous, diffident, as if lifeor at least youth, for they are all youngwere a discomfiting wait in the anteroom of the absolute. The majority of these stories depict encounters between strangers and their unexpected effects, which can be as concrete as a roomful of flowers or a bottle of wine, or as intangible as a miracle or a dream.