"The Common Man," Maurice Manning's fourth collection, is a series of ballad-like narratives, set down in loose, unrhymed iambic tetrameter, that honors the strange beauty of the Kentucky mountain country he knew as a child, as well as the idiosyncratic adventures and personalities of the oldtimers who were his neighbors, friends, and family. Playing off the book's title, Manning demonstrates that no one is common or simple. Instead, he creates a detailed, complex, and poignant portrait--by turns serious and hilarious, philosophical and speculative, but ultimately tragic--of a fast-disappearing aspect of American culture. "The Common Man"'s accessibility and its enthusiastic and sincere charms make it the perfect antidote to the glib ironies that characterize much contemporary American verse. It will also help to strengthen Manning's reputation as one of his generation's most important and original voices.