Himself the son of an immigrant, Bugeja, a former UPI bureau chief, has written a collection of nine straightforward short stories centered on the immigrant experience from the 1950s on. Several of the pieces are told by first-generation men of different ages and backgrounds, others by middle-American men who talk in dishearteningly flat, homogenized voices. The evocative title story, narrated by a Vietnamese woman transplanted to Oklahoma, won the grand prize in the Writer's Digest competition for 1986. Using various American men, she compulsively reenacts her Saigon experience with an American lieutenant, who seduced her and recruited her as a spy. Some stories hint at poignant dramas and realistic family portraits-a Cypriot boy in New Jersey yearns for contact with his aloof father and allows the local bleach delivery man to become a surrogate; a Sicilian boy risks his honor for a mobster's hidden leper daughter; a Hispanic boy learns the truth about WWII from his silent, unseen hero uncle, but most remain unmemorable. Instead of breaking ground, the author resorts to cliches, such as "He looked like Yogi Berra with a heart like the Tin Man in Oz.''