Having a first novel ( Edisto , LJ 3/15/84) nominated for an ABA award is a hard act to follow, but Powell's subsequent works continue to establish his reputation as a literary wordsmith of the first order. Typical is anything but a typical collection of short stories--it's a dazzling display of verbal pyrotechnics and literary lunacy, mordantly outrageous Southern Gothic wit, and incidents that transcend reality and take on an irrepressible logic of their own. The title story, selected for The Best American Short Stories of 1990 , is a gem of modern madness played out by a down-and-out Texas realist. ``The Winnowing of Mrs. Schuping'' is a Florida-based love story unlike any other romantic tale, yet the characters are so real and true that they linger in the mind. Powell rises above the easily applied label ``Southern writer''; he is a brilliant crafter of words. Recommended.-- Judith F. Bradley, Acad. of the Holy Cross Lib., Kensington, Md.