Claude Monet: Life at Giverny, by Claire Joyes (Vendome, $14.95). Up the winding Seine, at Giverny, lies Claude Monet's house and garden where his waterlilies still thrive. There he passed idyllic days, from 1890 until his death in 1926, capturing the beauty of the shimmering light as it reflected on the pond and its flowers. He cultivated his garden as an artist would -- an arched bridge built over the pond later covered with mauve and white wisterias. And irises, sunflowers, tulips and roses -- all the right colors to suit his palette. Here is a book, complete with photographs of his garden and color reproductions of his paintings, that delights both the gardener and the artist in us all.
Brothers and Keepers, by John Edgar Wideman (Penguin, $6.95). Novelist John Edgar Wideman, once a Rhodes Scholar and now professorf English, has written a memoir of growing up poor and black in Pittsburgh that is vivid, poignant, full of rage and love. The story is of Wideman's brother, now serving a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison for murder. Wideman raises hard questions about the differences between himself and his charming but troubled brother, about the justice and penal systems which not only punish but dehumanize those caught in their webs. The book is an important document of social history, painful to read but powerful.
The Death of a President: November 20-November 25, 1963, by William Manchester (Arbor House, $10.95). It is hard to convey the emotional impact of this book when it was first published 20 years ago. Distinguished by its reporting of events believed too damaging to be aired publicly in that more discreet time -- notably in the efforts by local lawmen to keep the slain president's body in Texas and in the confrontation between Kennedy and Johnson loyalists afterward -- Manchester's work remains without question the best account in print of the assassination.
Aldous Huxley: A Biography, by Sybille Bedford (Carroll & Graf, $14.95). Sybille Bedford's life of Aldous Huxley is beautifully written (Bedford is herself a fine novelist and journalist), laced with indiscretion, and stars a cast that ranges from D.H. Lawrence and Christopher Isherwood to Igor Stravinsky and Timothy Leary. Huxley's literary reputation has declined somewhat since his death in 1963, but the wit and brilliance of his early novels -- Antic Hay, Crome Yellow, and Point Counter Point -- can still rival Waugh's, while his philosophical fantasies like Brave New World, After Many a Summer and Island remain important and highly enjoyable. As an essayist and travel writer, Huxley may be even more distinguished, for his was a mind that rivalled an encyclopedia in its range of curious knowledge. In his private life, he could be equally sui generis, whether practicing free love or experimenting with "mind-expanding" drugs.
The Klondike Fever, by Pierre Berton (Carroll & Graf). Berton is a superb storyteller, and this is his special material: his father was in on "the main stampede" to the gold country of northwestern Canada in 1898, and the young Berton lived across the street from Robert Service, the bard of the Yukon ("The Cremation of Sam McGee"). Words like "adventure," "saga," and "legend" come to mind as one browses through this volume, with its incantatory chapter titles: e.g., "A chapter of deceptions, in which the easiest ways to wealth turn out to be the weariest and survival becomes sweeter than any fortune."
Love Above All, by George Grosz (Allison & Busby, $5.95). In 1931 the great German satirical artist -- a pen-and-ink gadfly buzzing about the Weimar Republic -- took time out from his hounding of politicians and burghers to do a series of drawings on love. Mostly composed of the barest strokes, they show Grosz in a gentler, more elegiac mood than the scathing mockery that characterizes so much of his other work. In one fairly typical effort, a large woman sitting in the lap of a military-looking gent who is chucking her under the chin gives him a dreamily lustful look. "Do you like me a little?" the caption reads, as if that will be quite enough. MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE
Some Beasts No More, by Kenneth Giles ((Walker, $2.95). A new addition to the Walker British Mystery series, this 1965 police procedural centers on the murder by poisoning of a Scottish industrialist with fixed habits and a large number of tennis-playing friends. The dead man was a reader of John Buchan and Hammond Innes, and the novel races toward the smashing conclusion associated with those names.
Quarry, by Max Allan Collins (Foul Play Press/The Countryman Press, $4.95). Remember Parker, the cool and criminal hero of The Hunter and a dozen or so ther novels by Richard Stark? Remember Raven, the professional killer in Graham Greene's This Gun for Hire? Remember the protagonist of Thomas Perry's The Butcher's Boy? To their mean company should be added Quarry, the hitman-hero of this efficient and amoral thriller by Max Allan Collins (best known as the writer of the Dick Tracy comic strip, the Ms. Tree adult comic, and several historical mysteries). In its opening chapter Quarry merely kills a priest, but things do pick up after that.
Death Times Three, by Rex Stout (Bantam, $3.50). Rex Stout may have died a few years back, but his creations Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are immortal. In this paperback original, Stout's biographer John J. McAleer reprints three novellas unavailable since their appearance in periodicals such as The Saturday Evening Post. An introduction sets forth Stout's achievement as a novelist and offers critical and bibliographical information about the reissued stories.
The Rel Cool Killers and A Rage in Harlem, by Chester Himes (Allison & Busby, $5.95; cloth, $13.95 each). Allison & Busby have been reissuing the novels of Chester Himes -- a reader service that is long overdue. Coffin Ed and Grave Digger, the meanest black cops and the coolest dudes around, know the streets of Harlem, its good and bad people, the schemes and dreams of its drug dealers, con men, and lowlifes. Himes uses the mystery-thriller genre to illuminate the black experience in America, but he does it in some of the most exciting -- and comic -- crime novels ever written.