cover image The Make-Believers

The Make-Believers

Berry Fleming, Author Permanent Press (NY) $22.95 (428p) ISBN 978-0-933256-71-2

First released in 1973 by a regional publisher, this long, densely written and detailed work by Fleming (Colonel Effingham's Raid, Lucinderella) deserves wider readership. The story, told in very long flashbacks, is about the Woodruff and Izlar families of Georgia. On center stage is Margaret, Boston bride of Dr. George Izlar, who was brought to the South early in the century and now loves George's cousinsLeonard, the painter, and Ike, the first-term Congressman. Margaret's affair with Leonard, and Ike's quixotic defense of an innocent black man accused of a killing are the start of a tangle that lasts 50 years. There is murder, suicide, adultery, bastardy and, everywhere, hypocrisy masquerading as politeness. Or is it a masquerade? Readers should not expect Fleming's famous ``light'' touch, but they'll enjoy the quirky characters (Leonard is akin to Gully Jimson of The Horse's Mouth) and masterful set pieces (even with the verdict known from the start, the murder trial is gripping). Fleming's eye for the South and its people (``black voices that the white ones imitated without knowing it'') is as sharp as ever in this wonderful book. (June)