The first American translation of acclaimed filmmaker Kitano's fiction is comprised of three short stories touching on different moments in childhood. The first, "The Champion in a Padded Kimono," features two brothers, one more athletically inclined than the other, at their elementary school's track and field day; the two enact the boyhood rituals of friendship and hero worship. The second story, "The Nest of Stars," narrated by the younger of two brothers, is the best of the three. Equally unpopular, the pair use astronomy as a vehicle for grief over their father, who gave them a telescope before he died. When their mother introduces her new boyfriend, the boys react badly. The final tale, "Okame-san" follows a nerdy, history-buff teenager to Kyoto, where he meets a biker bad girl who tries to loosen him up a little. Kitano has real insights into coming-of-age milestones and the growing pains of adolescence, but the unembellished prose, as rendered here, doesn't always bring them into focus.