Picks and Pans Review: Pariah and Other Stories

updated 10/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Joan Williams

In this collection of short fiction by a onetime William Faulkner protégée (and lover), the narrative is engaging, the vision tends to be somewhat neurotic and the language is sprinkled with the dialect of rural Mississippi. "You don't any more know what I'm talking about than the cat flies," says a gentle village woman to the mute she's been prattling to. She's just one of the characters struggling against barriers of age, race, sex and ignorance in Williams' troubling universe. There's a disillusioned boy who has witnessed loathsome racial prejudice exhibited by his grandpa, a dipsomaniac woman who has gone on a binge and left her child standing in the snow, a retarded man who's refused admittance to a movie. Williams, 55, a native Memphian, is like her mentor, whom she met after sending him samples of her work. She writes of people who are confused and fearful and does it with strength and grace. (Little, Brown, $13.95)

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