Captain Bennett's Folly

Berry Fleming, Author Permanent Press (NY) $21.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-932966-93-3

Walker Williams is bright, lazy, a tad too selfish to be attractive and a more or less sane member of a Southern Gothic family. The Williams-Vidrine clan (Walker, rapacious Mamma, lubricious Sisterbaby and sleazy stepfather Stacy) are living beyond their means, and plan to hustle octogenarian Uncle Nolan out of some valuable Georgia property. Walker, dispatched to the Florida Keys to scout out Nolan's possible relationship with his young widow housekeeper, discovers that Nolan dreams of conversations with a God-like ``Mr.C'' about his human ``Experiment'' But courtly Uncle Nolan is not entirely daft and triumphs over the attempts of his unpleasant kin to commit him. The novel offers a witty, mordant, basically good-natured look at us and our times; rejected by 20 publishers a decade ago, it is a triumph for its 90-year-old author ( Colonel Ef fing ham's Raid ; Lucinderella ). Nominated for a Nobel Prize and still writing, Fleming is a kind of national treasure. Lovers of good fiction will cherish this example of his work. (Aug.)