By Gregory Kirschling
Updated April 14, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

Charles D’Ambrosio, a New Yorker regular, writes almost exclusively about the kinds of uneasy souls who lie down to sleep at night and, at their best, remain amazed that ”tomorrow night I’d be able to do the exact same thing,” or, at their worst, cower under the blankets, ”imagining I was closing the lid of my coffin.” Not a cheery bunch, but D’Ambrosio vitalizes them with singing prose that usually finds the pearl in the mud. His best in The Dead Fish Museum: ”Screenwriter,” a sweetly fouled-up love story set in a psych ward, where the wrecked narrator meets a ballerina with memorably clear blue eyes: ”When you looked into them, you half-expected to see fish swimming around at the back of her head, shy ones.”