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April 18, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

A GARLIC TESTAMENT: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm by Stanley Crawford (HarperPerennial: $10.; 241 pp.). The author of "Mayordomo" describes the changes the year brings to his small farm in northern New Mexico. Crawford uses his skills as a novelist to describe the differences in the colors, smells and duties of each season. He also tells the reader seemingly everything there is to know about garlic. Like Candide, Crawford has concluded that his proper occupation is cultivating his garden, and he shares the quiet contentment he derives from his ties to soil: "In an age that has littered the planet with permanent garbage and toxic waste, there is much to be said for basing a living on crops which by definition submit readily to the forces of decay, and whose immortality is of another kind, lying rather in the endless passages through cycles of life and death."

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