FLORIDA is beaches and bathing beauties. The tabloids tell us all about that. But Florida is also the scrub, the hammocks, the slow black hyacinth-choked rivers, the struggle to exist without money as pioneers in a civilization which, while encroaching daily, still only takes away the means of livelihood and puts nothing in its place. Mrs. Rawlings tells us about that. It is her territory, the Crackers are her people, and her stories are as good reporting of life in the United States as we have today. They are stories. Not folklore. Not sociological tracts. Not a personal desire to shout the sourness of these sour times through puppet characters. In this Mrs. Rawlings is nearly unique. She still knows a story when she sees one, and tells it with heart-lifting skill. These eleven tales range from the slow bewilderment of ‘ Jacob’s Ladder’ to the riotous humor of ‘Benny and the Bird Dogs.’ Mrs. Rawlings is not talking about groups; she is talking about her neighbors, as Mark Twain did before her. The tales are not all of equal excellence, and one might wonder why religion, one of the Crackers’ few emotional stimulants, never appears in them. But finicking criticism of Mrs. Rawlings is no game to play. She is one of the two or three sui generis storytellers we have, and we’d better thank God for her.
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