A noble task, nobly done, / Full ofnvirtue veiled with fun.nCaroline Morgan is a drama and artncritic in New York City.nDecent Folk FromnGeorgianhy Stephen L. TannernCold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns,nNew York: Ticknor & Fields.n”Livin’ is like pourin’ water out of antumbler into a dang Coca-Cola bottle.nIf’n you skeered you cain’t do it, youncain’t. If’n you say to yoreself, ‘Byndang, I can do it!’ then, by dang, younwon’t slosh a drop. ” This sample ofndialogue coneys something of thentone, language, and philosophy of Co/dnSassy Tree (the title refers to a smallnGeorgia town, named for a shady sassafrasntree). The man pouring life into anCoca-Cola bottle is a self-reliant, onearmedn59-year-old storeowner whonscandalizes his children and the entirencommunit>’ by marr ing the town millinernjust three weeks after the deathnof his wife of man- years. Begun asna marriage of convenience, the rela­n::^.jiiiammi •!Tr”s«*^rJnIM&nAmerican S<»aiMk5-nS50-1980nCHARLES WL«a^^’nORDER TOLL-FREEn1-800-238-2200nBNt 500nCharge your Visa or MasterCardn• Continental U.S. •n24 liours a day • 7 days a weelinMOHEY RACKnGUARANTEEnIf for any reason younare dissatisfied with any book,njust return it within 30 daysnfor a refundntionship grows to a passionate andnedifying love. The year is 1906, and thenstory is narrated by the man’s 14-yearoldngrandson, who, as an intimate witnessnof the love story, gains a valuablenawareness of human needs andnmotivations.nThe novel furthers the rich traditionnof .American humor born in the South.nThe young sensitive narrator, the vernacularnidiom, the homely similes, thenpractical jokes and tall tales, and thensatire of small-town hypocrisy are reminiscentnof Mark Twain. The chattynSouthern dialect calls to mind EudoranWelty. And 01ie Ann Burns deservesnto be mentioned in the same paragraphnwith such writers. Though a first novel,nthis is distinguished fiction. Accordingnto an autobiographical letter, she wantednto prove “that a book about essentiallyndecent people could be a page-turnernwithout explicit sex and constant violence.n” She was tired of current sordidnstories of unsavory people “who havenno self-respect and no respect for anybodynor any institutions.”nShe proves her point in a thoroughlynengaging and often moving novel thatnilluminates afresh and without thencynicism and sensationalism of muchncurrent fiction the old elementalnthemes of love and death and adolescentninitiation.nThe recreation of a small Southernncommunity in the first decade of ourncentury is masterful. The author, anformer writer for the Atlanta Journalnand Constitution, relied heavily on hernown experiences growing up in Commerce,nGeorgia, and on family historynsystematically gathered from her parents.nHer father, who like the narratornwas 14 in 1906, was one of those masternstorytellers whose style is not crampednby the truth. Among his stories was onenabout her grandfather, “who marriednthree weeks after his wife died and whonsaid he loved Miss Annie but she wasndead as she’d ever be and he had to gitnhim another wife or hire a housekeepernone, and it would just be cheaper to gitnmarried.” This was the germ of hernnovel, which is fleshed out imaginativelynto encompass love among the old asnwell as the young, the confrontationnwith death, the poignant ironies ofnracial and class relations, and both thencomedy and injury of village smallmindedness.nTo readers of current fiction who stillnbelieve the novel can be an edifying asnwell as entertaining reflection of ordinarynlife. Cold Sassy Tree will benreassuring.nStephen L. Tanner is professor ofnEnglish at Brigham Young University.nDOES WELFARE HURT THE POOR?nLOSING GROUNDnby Charles MurraynThis profoundly influential booknexplains how the welfare state notnonly failed to help the poor, but oftennmade things worse for thendisadvantaged.nMurray’s breakthrough work has hadnexplosive impact on discussions ofnsocial policy in the ’80s, and thenreverberations will echo beyond thendecade. This is the book socialndemocrat Michael Harrington hasncalled “dangerous,” while suchnconservatives as Milton Friedman,nWilliam Buckley, Jack Kemp andnPatrick Buchanan have hailed it asn”briUiant.”nNOWAVAILABLEnIN PAPERBACKnfrom LAISSEZ FAIRE BOOKSnQnler’CU0572 $10.95nSend your order to:nLAISSEZ FAIRE BOOKS, Dept ( (;n532 Broadway, 7th noor, NY 10012nPlease send me copies of LosingnGround (order •CU0572) for $10.95 eacti. plus $1.00npostage & handling ($2.00 for foreign orders).nn Send me your 32-page catalog of books on liberty.nn My check or money order is enclosed for $nn Plea.se bill mv D Visa Q Master Card.nAccl. No.nEjtpir. DatenSiKnaturf _nNamtlPleuePrlnl)nAddressnCity/Slalf/Zip _nnn*>• OCTOBER 1986139n