The 11th installment in this excellent series is certainly one of the strongest, with 19 stories that capture the diversity of the South in voice and place, drawing on a range of old and new talents. The Old South of decaying mansions, men in seersucker, and women in lace is well recalled in first-rate tales by Charles East (""Pavane for a Dead Princess""), who meditates on the phenomenon of elderly ladies and their young male companions; by Para Durban (""Gravity""), who beautifully records the decline of a once-distinguished Charleston family; and by Ellen Douglas (""Julia and Nellie""), who offers a tale of friendship transcending serious religious conflict. The rural and working-class South provides its own meaning and wistfulness: In Judy Troy's ""Ramone,"" a young girl relocates to the small Texas town where her stepfather's father lies dying; in Patricia Elam Ruff's moving and elegiac ""The Taxi Ride,"" an elderly woman, tired but happy in her long marriage, finds a welcome friend in a courtly cab-driver; in Janice Daugharty's ""Along a Wider River,"" a former sharecropper watches his old boss fumble and die while fishing; and in Rhian Margaret Ellis's ""Every Building Wants to Fall,"" a fatherless girl, feeling powerless and hopeless as well, discovers a perverse strength in causing her friend's epileptic seizures. Some inspired low comedy (and more class conflict) comes from two familiar experts: Tim Gautreaux's ""Little Frogs in a Ditch"" is a droll tale concerning a no-account loser who sells common roof pigeons as homing pigeons; and Lee Smith's unsparing ""Native Daughter"" turns on the conceit of its haughty narrator, a pretty girl from Kentucky who doesn't realize that her clubby male companions consider her easy trash. Robert Olen Butler's tetchy introduction--with its bristling at the notion of ""Southern"" fiction--insists on the universality of art, but his fears are misplaced. The superb stories here quietly demonstrate that the universal always resides in the particular.