Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans, by Wallace Terry (Ballantine, $3.95). Twenty black Vietnam veterans, ranging in rank from private to colonel, candidly discuss their experiences in a war that was waged against the background of the civil rights movement at home. In that war black combat fatalities were consistently higher than the 11 percent representation of blacks in the total American population.
Pierre Loti: The Legendary Romantic, by Lesley Blanch (Carroll & Graf, $10.95). The enormously popular 19th-century novels of Pierre Loti, said Anatole France, enabled armchair travelers to savor "to the point of intoxication, of delirium, of stupor, even, the bitter flavor of exotic loves." In our less buttoned-up age, Loti's infatuation with Turkish harem beauties and Oriental fleshpots seems impossibly romantic. Still, his travel writings reflect the marvelous human diversity of a time when the world was not one big airport lounge, and his life itself, full of outrageous disguises, illicit amours, improbable decors, and outlandish costumes gives pleasure by the fact of its nonconformity, especially when told by such a master of narrative as Lesley (The Wilder Shores of Love) Blanch.
The Connoisseur's Guide to the Movies, by James Monaco (Facts on File, $9.95). Unputdownable as they are, movie-rating compendia of this sort are highly subjective, and when movie "connoisseurs" pick them up they are generally ready for a fight. Many will find plenty to quarrel with in the evaluations given here: Monaco champions films like Terms of Endearment and Ghostbusters while ignoring others that many connoisseurs may prefer. He finds Last Year at Marienbad "almost laughable now," and leaves out Seven Beauties and Three Women altogether, but is perceptive in brief appreciations of such experimental films as the Belgian Jeanne Dielman. Monaco's subtitle for his guide ("The 1,450 Most Significant Movies in the World Ranked and Rated") and his selection of "the 36 great films in history" will provoke many readers to ponder their own cinematic loyalties.
Visions of Excess: Selected Writing, 1927- 1939, by Georges Bataille. Edited, translated, and with an introduction by Allen Stoekl (University of Minnesota Press, $14.95; cloth, $29.95). Tough readers who survived Story of the Eye or Blue of Noon will probably welcome the chance to learn more about the sensibility that produced those repellent but fascinating novels. The perverse, often fanatical essays contained in this new volume once again find Bataille waging a full-scale frontal attack on conventional concepts of the order of things, and his methods are those of Sade and Lautr,eamont, two other Frenchmen who were always eager to rough up the reader. In elliptical discussions of various forms of political and psychological obsession, Bataille often seems to be insisting on ideas that resist clear expression: "A dog devouring the stomach of a goose, a drunken vomiting woman, a sobbing accountant, a jar of mustard represent the confusion that serves as the vehicle of love." As part of what appears to be a Bataille boomlet, Marion Boyars has recently released hardback editions of three of his novels and the critical work, Literature and Evil ($14.95), all in excellent translations.