Aptly described in an introduction by Martin Bidney as a "snapshot album of rural and small town Georgia," this collection of lyrical short fiction presents a fragmented vision of Southern life. Most of the 14 pieces--whether anecdotes, outlines, character sketches or vignettes--are dated to allow the reader to absorb cultural changes from 1935 to 1980. What emerges is true to the old clich : the more things change, the more they stay the same. The title derives from a type of hymn book used in rural Georgia--indeed, religion figures prominently in many of these selections. What Wilcox does especially well is capture the sounds of language, transporting readers to the front porch of the general store, the living room of a white-pillared plantation house or a sharecropper's cabin, where characters instantly come alive to both the ear and eye. There are echoes of Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Erskine Caldwell, Clyde Edgerton and other Southern stalwarts--but all too often, just when the characters are established and we are anxious to see what will develop, the pieces end abruptly. "Franklin Delerner Roosevelt" examines a man's reaction to the murder of a black neighbor and heightens his awareness of the racism that pervades the town--but it stops just as it gets going. The longest and most interesting story is "In Sister's Room," a study of the agony unintentionally inflicted on a family by a member who is perceived to be perfect. Wilcox produces plenty of vivid character sketches, but the vitality of her characterizations does not sufficiently compensate for her collection's dearth of satisfying story lines. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.