The strongest leasehold on literary talent is still retained by the writers of the deep South--ironically enough out of flat, dusty country such as this where life is a monotone existence, a perpetuation of scuffed gentility and hand-me-down traditions. Change, ominous but muffled, is kept at arm's length along with the Negroes who are still called ""coloreds"" and ""family feeling"" camouflages more precarious liens. Returning now to her Mississippi home for a visit is Nat Hunter, thirty-odd, a haggard face with a beautiful body everyone finds as disconcerting as her past (a husband divorced, a son abandoned). Nat lives through dead days and dreadful nights afraid to face a world in which she has no real purpose--""How can I be sure that if I wake up I may not really be waking into another dream, and maybe it'll be worse than this one?"" None of them have really woken up: her uncle and aunt (surrogate parents) to the actuality of real poverty (his home and hardware store mortgaged, his invention appropriated); her cousin Wilburn to the lovelessness of his marriage. And Nat, in an attempt to salvage them and herself, gets involved in a messy scene with a gambler-drunkard-castrate. . . . A drama (it could be an effective film) which is directly if never obviously consonant with its characters--lost ghosts on a social landscape of tacil despair. A writer of quality and unconditional conviction.