Southern authors often mine their own backyards, writing about locals whom readers might characterize as poor white trash. The temptation to craft stories like William Faulkner's or Flannery O'Connor's is a worthy goal, but one that hardly anyone attains. The pieces in this collection all begin with great promise. Almost immediately, there is an undercurrent of pending violence as mostly male characters follow their visceral feelings, which range from mean to downright ornery. In the end, however, only "Last Man In" and "Making Beliefs" succeed in reaching believable denouements that pack a wallop. The rest of the stories fall short, unraveling in flat endings that usually depict life as it actually is but nevertheless disappoint the reader's expectation of an epiphany. In addition, the endless succession of ill-educated poor folks results in monolithic stories that seem repetitive by the end of the book. Only for comprehensive collections.-Olivia Opello, Onondaga Cty. P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.