Berry Fleming, Author Permanent Press (NY) $22 (352p) ISBN 978-0-933256-66-8

Originally published in 1935, this densely populated saga by a Georgia-based writer is very much of its time and place: the year 1932, the place an Alabama-Georgia border town large enough to contain a wide spectrum of characters, small enough to be seen in the round. The sweltering August atmosphere is deadening, the procession of characterssingly and in narrative clusters, often introduced with a biographical prologueis long and winding. A kindly doctor and his corrupt son (who may have seduced and betrayed the beautiful mulatto nurse); the cotton tycoon and his long-time mistress; the ballet dancer, son of a humble Jewish shoemaker, returned from the great world; the neurasthenic poet, a hapless rich boy preyed upon by a parasitic couple; the gifted young pianist who loses the drive to go to Vienna and conquer the musical world. Then there are the requisite adultery, suicide, abortion, homosexuality, blackmail, even a possible murder and the accusation of the innocent. Main Street may have seemed fresh territory when the novel was first issued, but after the lapse of half a century, it seems exhausted as a subject for serious fiction. (October)