SCISSORS, PAPER, ROCK by Fenton Johnson (Washington Square: $10.; 226 pp.). Johnson's tale of the intergenerational problems of a rural Kentucky family is less a novel than a series of linked short stories. Tom, the embittered patriarch of the Hardins of Strang Knob, is dying of cancer; Rose Ella stoically endures marriage to Tom and the deaths of two children. Elizabeth, the youngest daughter, struggles to establish herself outside her parents' influence; AIDS claims Raphael, the youngest son. The fate of the Hardins is bound to the mysterious spinster, Miss Camilla, who links the past as people choose to remember it with the more prosaic reality: "What matters are not the facts (disputable at best) but the stories they inspire, and our hearts' need for creating and preserving these stories to pass on . . . "
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