Books: Alabama Town

THE PATCHWORK TIME (323 pp.)—Robert Gibbons—Knopf ($3).

This is the story of an Alabama town named Pineboro, a place of "tasseled pink-shaded livingroom lamps and bare kitchen bulbs."

Its major achievement is that Robert Gibbons makes his overdrawn characters credible. He has a sharp eye for the commonplaces of small-town life, a good ear for common speech, an unsparing fidelity in recording the stupidities and the brutalities of the townspeople. The imagination revealed in his characterizations, the lopsided half-caricatures that still talk a recognizable native language, indicate an emerging talent of the first importance....

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