Cadenza, by Ralph Cusack; Season at Coole, by Michael Stephens; Wall to Wall, by Douglas Woolf (The Dalkey Archive Press, 1817 79th Ave. Elmwood Park, Ill.60635, $4.50 each; cloth, $20 each). The Dalkey Archive Press aims to reprint a number of classic contemporary novels unjustly allowed to go out of print. In appearance these books recall those of France's Gallimard publishing house: ecru stock, no illustrations, austere typography, restrained elegance. The novels themselves, however, tend to be exuberant, funny, bravura works: Cadenza echoes Tristram Shandy and Flann O'Brien as its hero, locked in a train carriage, recalls his life; Season at Coole portrays a loud, dirty family of Irish Americans living on Long Island; and Wall to Wall takes the reader on a car trip across America, with a focus on the tawdry, vulgar and picaresque.
The Violins of Saint-Jacques, by Patrick Leigh Fermor; Academic Year, by D.J. Enright; Turbott Wolfe, by William Plomer (Oxford, $5.95 each). These latest reissues in Oxford's series "Twentieth Century Classics" carry the American reader to a trio of exotic locales, all of them captured by writers of marked stylishness. Leigh Fermor -- best known for his travel books -- evokes a life of decadence and passion on a small Caribbean island; Enright portrays Alexandria, Egypt, through the serio-comic misadventures of an expatriate English teacher; and Plomer -- a writer of great charm and influence -- depicts his homeland, South Africa, in a 1925 novel that has lost none of its power and controversy.
The Blood of Paradise, by Stephen Goodwin (Avon, $3.95). This novel about a difficult marriage is set against the beautiful scenery of Virginia's Blue Ridge where a young couple and their daughter have taken refuge to try and shore up their family. The feeling for their anguish and their lives is beautifully rendered by Stephen Goodwin.
Disturbances in the Field, by Lynne Sharon Schwartz (Bantam, $7.95). This third novel by Lynne Sharon Schwartz is more leisurely than her others. She takes a long look at family life, at the pleasures of memory, of ideas, and the nature of pain. The main character Lydia, is a musician, married to an artist. They have a solid harmonious marriage, with plucky, bright children. Then they suffer the ultimate in tragedy -- the death of a child. How Lydia learns to cope with that loss with the help of a network of old friends of 20 years and the discipline of her music forms the fabric of the novel. NONFICTION
Madame de Sevigne: A Life and Letters, by Frances Mossiker (Columbia University Press, $14.50). She was a beauty, and brilliant, and happily for us an acute observer -- in her letters and other writings -- of the Court of Louis XIV. Frances Mossiker has skillfully woven many of Madame de S,evign,e's own words into this eloquent biography, a delight for Francophiles and history buffs.
Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince, translated with an introduction by Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. (University of Chicago, $5.95; hardcover, $18). What Clausewitz is to war, Machiavelli is to politics: both are advocates of Realpolitik, masters of the pragmatic and epigrammatic. In this new translation of The Prince Mansfield provides brief notes, both historical and interpretive, as well as a good index and bibliography. Managers of all sorts might study this short book with much profit.
Fat of the Land, by Fred Powledge (Simon and Schuster, $7.95). Food no longer has to do only with agriculture. Increasingly, food is the product of industry, as the food processing business has grown over the past couple of decades. Fred Powledge, an investigative journalist who has written about many topics, turns his attention to food -- how it is grown, processed, adulterated, financed, distributed and marketed. And he provides tips on how to get better food to the table, fresher, and more cheaply, even if you don't have a cow on the lawn or chickens in the garage.
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, by Sherry Turkle (Touchstone/Simon and Schuster, $8.95). The increasing use of computers, by children and adults, is changing the way we think, the way we interact with our world, according to this fascinating study by MIT professor Sherry Turkle. As computers become more sophisticated, and our interaction with them more complex, we are driven to consider the differences between our own minds and those of machines. To write her book, Turkle interviewed children, video-game aficionados, hackers, programmers, and those who work in the field of artificial intelligence. The portraits she provides are fascinating. MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
The Mysterious Mr. Ripley: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game and The Boy Who Followed Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith (Penguin, $9.95; $3.95). With her first book Strangers on a Train (1950), Patricia Highsmith vaulted to the forefront of writers of psychological suspense and has remained there ever since. Her most famous character, Tom Ripley -- his exploits are chronicled in these two Penguins -- evolves from a callow young man into a connoisseur of art and culture, but only after he murders a rich friend, assumes his identity, and ingratiates himself with the dead man's family. Ripley is wonderfully amoral, Highsmith's style nicely chilled, and all the books laced with black humor and an ever-tightening, claustrophobic sense of desperation.
The Casino Murder Case, by S.S. Van Dine (Scribners, $3.95). In the 1920s and '30s, Philo Vance was probably the most popular fictional detective in America. An elegant amateur of letters as well as of crime, he embodied posh -- the exquisite apartment, the recherch,e library, imported cigarettes, Chinese rugs, an English butler, researches into early Assyrian folk sculpture, a faithful amanuensis. Unfortunately, for Van Dine anyway, the hard-boiled gumshoe gradually supplanted the aristocratic dabbler in murder; soon it seemed that Philo Vance -- in Ogden Nash's phrase -- "deserved a kick in the pance." Now, however, mystery readers can safely return to these drawing room murders with nostalgia, enjoying them as fairy tales about an upper crust that never was, but is delightful to imagine. In this case -- the latest in Scribners reprint program -- Vance must solve a trio of poisonings at an exclusive gambling club.