Ford's short stories run an extraordinary gamut of small-town Southern characters and he has an uncanny way of projecting himself through someone else, whether it is a jilted salesgirl, an old woman dying, a boy catching fish, a Negro nursemaid. Each time the statement of character and social setting is clear; only rarely does a story fail; and it is the persistent theme of violence that pervades most of the pieces here. He seems interested in the effect such sudden experience works on people. In The Savage Sound a man's whippets kill for the first time; in Act of Self-Defense two old friends have a brutal senseless fight; a Negro's pregnant wife dies unattended in a hospital in Bitter Bread because he could not make a fifty dollar payment and Beyond the Sunset (an excellent story) features an aging man defending himself against a furious loser in a pool game. Some of the stories are gentler than these, but in all of them there are hints of the hunter and the hunted, the inadvertent victims, the failures and cruelty of sons of men. Ford's crossing of ordinary dialogue or internal thought and traumatic action makes them disturbing and plausible.