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July 17, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

MEMPHIS AFTERNOONS by James Conaway (Avon: $10; 211 pp.). The author of "Napa" traces the threads of the disparate families united by his parent's marriage in this fond memoir. Although both clans include numerous eccentrics in the great Southern tradition, Conaway's most distinguished ancestor was J. P. Alley, an editorial cartoonist honored for his criticism of the Ku Klux Klan during the early 1920s. Conaway uses his skills as a novelist to evoke a nostalgic vision of the South, where ice cubes tinkle in pitchers on shaded porches, although the reader is left with the feeling that the author is both recalling his past and attempting to exorcise it.

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