By Margot Mifflin
Updated August 16, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT

Using sleep as a metaphor for death, psychic travel, and emotional deep freeze, this trio of novellas features young women waiting for life to resume after a tragedy. The first two stories rely heavily on sentimental reflections on dead people, but the third is layered with meaning. In it, a kept woman sleeps all day and awakens to be with her lover, whose wife is in a coma. Sleep numbs her while she provides company for her emotionally suspended boyfriend; meanwhile, her best friend makes her living by keeping lonely, damaged men and women company while they sleep. Where Yoshimoto’s opening tales in Asleep are charming but aimless, this one is an eerie zinger.