"What has been the special mission of the writeer of fiction of the decade of the 1950's? Not absolutely different from the mission of the writer of any time, of course. . . . But a special kind of light has been focused, a direction marked out, and when we look at the contemporary writers who mean much to us at this end of the decade, we may see how they have responded as a group to the particular disasters and challenges of our time." It is these terms that author-critic Herbert Gold presents this provocative selection of fifteen short stories of the fifties, written by such contemporary masters as Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, John Cheever, William Eastlake, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O'Connor and J. F. Powers. In addition to what they may reveal about the decade just past, the contents of this volume hold also the lasting appeal of the well-written, absorbing story.