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Books: Down South in Maine

A LAMP FOR NIGHTFALL (211 pp)—Erskine Caldwell—Duell, Sloan & Pearce—Little, Brown ($3).

One thing about Novelist Erskine Caldwell: he plays no regional favorites. He sniffs out fictional meanness and degeneracy with the zest of a Berkshire in a barnyard, and he imagines them as readily in staid old New England as he does in the meaner stretches of Georgia. Actually the region doesn't matter. By now, Caldwell's characters are not so much recognizable people as mass-produced toys which squeak set speeches and make appropriate gestures when wound up. In Episode in Palmetto (1950)...

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