If anthology number 31 is in any way peculiar to the year it tolls, suggests a retreat from activism and a strong assertion of place. This seems to follow from a conviction that the world and the country are rotting underfoot. These writers appear however to have taken a further step, deciding that what might not be preservable should at least be recorded or commemorated. Some withdraw directly into regionalism to affirm locale as a last bittersweet absolute; others take a more anthropological approach to the stresses and styles of specific milieux; and still others prefer to read via the seismograph of a single psyche. But they are realists to a man -- even the sly fantasist M. F. Beal plants his story firmly in the California hills -- and although there is something a little prematurely elegiac in this sickbed embracing of the environment, it nonetheless gives a welcome substantiality. No Barthelme or Oates, but there are such notables as Herbert Gold and Brautigan and Robert Penn Warren and other less familiar names -- Mary Gray Hughes and Rebecca Kavaler for example -- many of whom, incidentally, are female. The Virginia Quarterly, New American Review and The Atlantic Monthly dominate, with a lone but fine Jose Iglesias contribution from The New Yorker.