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A second collate, like Morgan's first (The Blue Valleys, 1989), that's set in the Blue Ridge Mountains and ranges from post-Revolutionary times to the present. It deals mostly with poor whites who are faced with death, betrayal, and greed. The best pieces include a historical element or personal quest and rise above mere local color. The title story concerns an old woman in a nursing home who has lost a foot. She's lived through two marriages, but near the end of her life she's drawn to search out the facts surrounding the death of her first fiancÉe in the war. Likewise, in ""Death Croon,"" the narrator visits dying Alice. The female narrator was ""Alice's favorite in the family,"" but now the dying woman smells ""like some electric spark, a warm radio,"" and Morgan again vividly splices together past and present instances until Alice reaches the release of ""beautiful death."" ""Poinsett's Bridge"" is the saga of a chimney-builder who goes to South Carolina to help build a bridge and stays until it's finished--despite flash floods and the mistreatment of paid help and slaves--because of his pride in workmanship and his sense of historical mission. The other pieces too often make too much of nothing: in ""Frog Level,"" a wife enters a local mall and sees her philandering Vietnam-vet husband with yet another woman; the ensuing chase, far too long, becomes a kind of travelogue. In ""The Bullnoser,"" a mother and her grown unemployed child (the narrator) talk about the debt their Daddy left them; the narrator then tries to recoup the family's loss by taking on the white trash who suckered Daddy out of his home--but the story veers off and never quite finds its center. A collection notable mainly for its vivid regionalism. Some of these pieces appeared originally in Epoch, Pembroke Magazine and Southern Review.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1992
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Peachtree