March 17, 1997 12:00 PM

Stories told to and by Robert Fulghum

Critics are to Robert Fulghum what bugs are to windshields: tiny smudges on the big picture. No matter how many reviewers savage his sappy, platitudinous books, the former Unitarian minister keeps churning out bestsellers—six in the last nine years, including his first collection of homespun homilies, 1988’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. So sure is Fulghum of his magic formula that he barely broke a sweat on this latest, a slender assortment of romantic stories sent to the author by fans or solicited by him in the coffee shops and bars of his hometown, Seattle.

Some of these tales of amour are sweet and genuinely touching. Other stories suggest that Fulghum’s New Age-speak is rubbing off on his readers: One woman says meeting a stranger on a train was “like falling into an infinite universe and yet being an intricate part of the whole thing.” Fulghum’s “perspectives” (“Love is a little taste of always and a big bite of nothing”) don’t help.

Quickly the urge to strangle a small pet kicks in, which is probably why Fulghum tells readers to sample these stories “a few at a time.” Here’s better advice for the romance minded: Skip True Love and go rent Ghost. (HarperCollins, $20)

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