Poet, novelist, critic, and the winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for lifetime achievement in the short story as an art form, Joyce Carol Oates in this collection offers readers 25 rich, hard-edged stories stamped with her inimitable touch: tales of violence ... or uncertainty ... or with the macabre running like lifeblood through them. In the O. Henry Award-winning title story, "Heat," young twin sisters are murdered, and both they and their killer are remembered by a woman who was their contemporary and, in a way, a victim as well. ... In "Leila Lee," a young woman who marries an older man tries to develop a relationship with her husband's angry teenage son. ... In "House Hunting," a husband perplexed by his disintegrating marriage goes house- hunting without his wife, and embarks on a quest-not only for a house, but for his future. From small towns to big cities, from the working class to the upper class, there is scarcely an aspect of the American experience that Joyce Carol Oates has not magically made her own. Her stories shock, provoke, and astound us with their commentary on the human condition.