Stark Summer was an intelligent and sympathetic novel of little people in a small Mississippi town. This second book is more severe, an almost unredeemed picture of the whites who have let go, of the stagnant, defeating life that the quagmire of ignorance, inertia and superstition brings upon these villages. The central character is the local doctor, a stalwart, self-sacrificing man whose futile attempts to help the people have failed and driven him to dope. His son, the woman he loves, the town's easiest make, the Holy Roller preacher -- he doesn't spare you much, but there is sympathy in the presentation and less cynicism than in the comparable Faulkner and Caldwell novels. A good job-but not for the conservatives.