Bledsoe, whose previous book was the best-selling ""true crime novel"" Bitter Blood (1988), shifts direction 180 degrees with this laid. back memoir about country life in North Carolina. Like an old cracker rambling on from his rocking chair, Bledsoe chats about what pleases him--his childhood paper route, sneaking into a hootchy-kootchy show, farming corn, fishing and crabbing, friendship, Ma-Ma (his grandmother) and her comic accidents, his family home (four rooms, wood stove, no hot water), jury duty. Most of this is charming, but uninvolving for those--meaning just about all of us--who weren't there. He fares better when writing about animals; whippoorwills, for instance, prompt some intriguing questions (""Why do they cry against the calm, and why in so many moods?""), and he knows his slug trivia (""people once ate live slugs as well as slugs boiled in milk in hopes of curing tuberculosis""). Whatever his topic, Bledsoe approaches it with sensitivity and kindess. He seems a likable man, infusing his essays with a friendly glow. But they have no real punch--this winds up as the sort of pleasant volume one finds alongside the samplers and dried flowers in a country guest house. Too quiet to excite, too private for wide appeal, this will be of interest primarily to North Carolinians.