FAR-FLUNG STORIES by Peter Cameron (Harper Collins: $19.95; 192 pp.) .
In these 12 stories, Peter Cameron unwittingly demonstrates the importance of character in fiction. Far-flung indeed, they are set in New York City, the Midwest, Canada, even Africa. But Cameron's descriptions of these places are too spare and flat to add an extra dimension to his people. Nor does plot help much. His people react rather than make things happen; they have been nudged out of the mainstream by divorce, others' deaths or failed love affairs, and they circle suspended in life's eddies. This wouldn't matter if the people themselves were fascinating. But many of them--especially the younger ones, gay and straight alike--are disappointingly generic.