More funny/sad cautionary tales--modern folk-tales, really--about small-town blacks, by the author of 17 plays and a previous collection of short stories, A Piece of Mine (1984). The narrators of these 13 pieces (different narrators, though their voices are nearly interchangeable) speak of the common wisdom of everyday life in glowing terms: ""All I know is there ain't nothin like love. Love and happiness! That's a fact, and you can blive that,"" but many of the characters never get close to realizing that happiness lies (as the title indicates) at home. ""You've got to have some kind of good sense. Common sense,"" cries the narrator of ""The Magic Strength of Need."" She's telling the story of her friend Burlee, an ugly girl who grows up swearing she's going to marry a rich man. She becomes a success in business, but keeps spurning the advances of Winston, the man who really loves her, just because he's not rich. But a one-night stand with a truly wealthy man (who nearly rapes her) brings her back to Winston--and home. Home is also the subject of ""Without Love,"" where Geneva, a proper lady who worked hard all her life for a family and a lovely house, tells the story of her wild friend Totsy, who drank and slept around all her life and now has nowhere to go in her old age. There's a kind of Aesopian simplicity here that transcends the basic clichÃ‰. And the young narrator of ""Happiness Does Not Come In Colors"" watches an older woman she's admired marry a white man, and she herself decides that a so-called ""square"" who's been wooing her isn't half-bad. Cooper is humorous, wise, self-deprecating, and always expressive, right down to her cheerful overuse of exclamation points. The ordinariness of her subject matter works well for her; her stories are about simple truths told with a great energy that makes them shine.