he seven long stories in ''One Day's Perfect Weather'' continue the project Daniel Stern began in his previous collections, ''Twice Told Tales'' (1989) and ''Twice Upon a Time'' (1992), in which he proposed that ''a text by a writer of the past whom I loved . . . could be basic to a fiction; as basic as a love affair, a trauma, a house, a mother, a landscape, a lover, a job or a sexual passion.'' The stories take their inspiration from, and revolve around, poems, pieces of music or works of prose. Thus, in ''The Dangerous Stream of Time,'' the protagonist's memory becomes cripplingly intense, as in Jorge Luis Borges's ''Funes the Memorious,'' and in ''A Man of Sorrows and Acquainted With Grief,'' Ben Kraft, a Jewish man listening to the St. John Passion in the car, wriggles out of a speeding ticket by claiming to have been swept away by the music's Christian message.
At his best, Stern weaves these source texts into his fiction as seamlessly as favorite books insinuate themselves into our imaginations. ''The Taste of Pennies,'' the collection's opening story, is both an intelligent commentary on reading and a beautiful piece in its own right. Its protagonist, Lee Binstock, an unhappily out-of-work banker whose mouth is injured in a fistfight (depriving him of his greatest pleasure, playing the clarinet), receives a suicide note from a friend, commending to him the elusive Robert Frost sonnet ''The Oven Bird.'' As Binstock lives with and comes to understand the poem, he finds that it provides an apt metaphor for his own sorrows and for those of his wife, which at one time he considered ''a minor joke.'' Or in ''A Man of Sorrows and Acquainted With Grief,'' the community's wild response to Kraft's ''revelation'' helps focus his confusion about his professional ambitions, his recent move to Texas and his marriage to a younger, gentile woman. The music calls forth a theme and variations in Kraft's understanding of his world, and it is a joy to read about someone thus learning to uncover the metaphorical underpinnings of his life.