by WILLIAM HUMPHREY
330 pages. Knopf. $6.95.
In his first novel since The Ordways, William Humphrey has remained true to the once effective formula for the Southern novelusing the Southern family to melodramatize the passing of a way of life through the death of the elder. Only in this instance it is not a dying patriarch, but matriarchnot a Big Daddy but a Big Mommy.
Setting his one-long-deathbed scene in Texas, Humphrey has made all the proportions of his tragedy bigger than life, almost to the point of Texas self-parody. As the mother...