The talented Crone's third collection (The Winnebago Mysteries, 1982; A Period of Confinement, 1986) shows that she still has a giftof heart, eye, and earin these eight stories of ordinary people living in today's Louisiana. Leading off is the longish title piece: a real-estate agent's tale of a local beauty's brief fame in Hollywood, then her retreat home and slow decline into a life of scandal, sorrow, and loneliness, as if there's no escape from the ancient script of Old Southern Gothic``Is this 1988?'' asks the ex-actress at one point; ``Can't we drive a stake through Faulkner's heart?'' Crone as author grants and exploits the influence of the Old Southin atmosphere, tradition, detail, sense of placeand yet she also portrays her characters less as ``southerners'' than as people who happen to live in the South. A divorced couple meet for dinner to discuss their daughter's choice of schooland realize that someday, conceivably, they'll remarry (``There is a River in New Orleans''); a young girl whose brother ``has'' to get married recognizes her father's terrible insensitivity (``I Am Eleven''); and a daughter isn't sure she can forgive God for her mother's death (``Crocheting''). Some of the stories grow fainter with the slightness of their charactersa photographer lusts for a woman who once modeled for him (``Desire''); a young husband tumbles into adultery (``Fever''); another falls for a visiting artist from Norway (``Oslo'')but Crone's control of texture and tone remain strong even then. And throughout, there's a consistency of pleasure to be had simply from this writer's gift of expressiveness, as in the case of the young man in ``Gaugin'' who, deciding to remain in Louisiana rather than move back north, ``was overcome by a sweet homesickness for the very moment he was living innot the next one, not one somewhere else.'' From an appealing author, stories that, at their best, are more than commonly authentic, capable, and moving.