A second (By the North Gate- 1963) collection of short stories by the talented young "Southern" writer is, in a way, a disappointment, attenuating and accentuating as it does one of the main failings of the genre which at this point has become The Method. There is of course the landscape-- heat, dirt, small areas of piney woods and the inevitable gas stations and billboards-- and above all the hovering of a capricious fate manipulating the characters, tin dolls creaking toward their doom with some inexplicable malfunction speeding the process. A young seminary student, struggling dimly to escape his white, airless world, confronts his sister who through a physiological mishap is reminded of her fleshly alliances, and both retreat to death in life. As flood waters recede, a man who had saved a girl and her young brother, kills the boy when he receives what is apparently a flash intuition of impotence. A young woman, masochistically returning to her alien family after each compulsive escapade with a man, dies of a miscarriage endured while on a motorcycle relentlessly driven by a man who loves her. A thirteen year old girl witnesses the knifing of an entire family. Etc., etc. Miss Oates is a gifted writer but we wait for a greater concern with universals rather than hideous incidentals. An on-going talent-- idling.