Books: Homily Grits

WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY (281 pp.) —Borden Deal—Scribner ($3.50).

The widespread American belief that man is essentially good runs into hard going south of the Mason-Dixon line. Perhaps because they are the only Americans who ever lost a war, Southerners are more likely than others to take a tragic view of life, and man's depravity is the favorite preoccupation of Southern literature—whether magnolia-scented or corn-likker-tainted. Borden Deal, 33, a Mississippi-born short story writer, belongs to the white-mule team. Readers who can digest a sort of homily-grits style and who have a strong head for...