Matriarch, by Anne Edwards (Quill, $9.95). When the impoverished Princess May of Teck suffered the death of her first betrothed, Queen Victoria's grandson, the Duke of Clarence, she married his brother George, became Queen Mary, mother of two kings, the short-term Edward VIII and George VI, and the grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. Her regal image, long neck decked with strands of pearls, striking tiara on her head, is remembered by generations. And together with her husband King George V, she was considered in her day the ideal of British royalty. Anne Edward's biography of this remarkable woman spans two world wars, the abdication of her eldest son, the coronations of her second son and her grand- daughter. A fascinating and colorful story.
Be the Boss, by Sandi Wilson (Avon, $5.95). What is the rea American dream? To have a business of your own, to work at what you like and get paid for it. This manual -- autobiographical, upbeat, and replete with useful information -- will guide the aspiring independent businessman through such rococo matters as bank financing, the care of clients, work schedules, and the seemingly endless paperwork. Sandi Wilson speaks from experience: she began her career as a secretary, graduated to advertising copywriter, and now (with a partner) runs her own successful ad agency.
The Myth of Senility: The Truth About the Brain and Aging, by Robin Marantz Henig (American Association of Retired Persons/Scott Foresman, $14.95). "The old mind is like an old muscle: It must be used and challenged in order to function well," writes Robin Marantz Henig near the beginning of this intelligent, enlightening and hopeful book. Henig doesn't gloss over the facts. The aging brain does change, and she covers those neurophysiological changes in detail. But she emphasizes that most of the changes can be compensated for. She also details how frequently older people are the victims of pseudosenility, caused by too many medications or an unstimulating environment.
Gargoyle, 27, edited by Richard Peabody ($5.95). Gargoyle is Washington's preeminent literary magazine, and this latest issue, beautifully designed and printed as usual, makes for illuminating browsing and reading: interviews with Rita Dove, Scott Sommer, Tina Fulker, Beth Joselow, Carlo Parcelli; photographs by Cecelia Arnold and Benedict Tisa; poetry by James Bertolino, Henry Allen and others; stories by Robert Gregory, Laurence Gonzales and Penny Newbury; lots of book reviews; a major essay on Australian novelist Randolph Stow; and bits of gossip, literary announcements, marginalia.
Raritan, edited by Richard Poirier (165 College Ave, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901, $4). Here is a serious and weighty magazine; these guys know the difference between post-structuralism and deconstruction, and to them Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault are more than names to try your French on. Though most of this issue looks forbidding, some of the essays are top-notch: poet Alfred Corn writes about his discovery of Alexandrian poet Cavafy, while Denis Donoghue looks into the vogue for Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin. Other pieces discuss Balanchine, Shelley, and "colonial journalism."
Shenandoah, 35/4, edited by James Boatwright (Box 722, Lexington, Va. 24450, $2.50). Shenandoah recently celebrated its 35th anniversary with an extravaganza retrospective volume (well worth searching out), for it has long been a showcase for exceptional writing. This latest issue ranges widely: an excerpt from Vikram Seth's narrative poem "The Golden Gate"; a long section, titled "Eternity," from Thomas M. Disch's forthcoming science fiction novel The Pressure of Time; an essay by Joy Williams on the movie Under the Volcano; and poems by Herbert Morris, Ira Sadoff, Jonathan Galassi and many others.
Grand Street: Winter 1985, edited by Ben Sonnenberg (50 Riverside Dr., New York, N.Y. 10024- 6504, $5). One of the three or four best literary magazines in the country, Grand Street chooses excellent writers, offers them the right subjects, and pays well. This issue features a story by Alice Munro, an essay on Hellenistic Greece by classicist Peter Green, Robert Sherrill on newspaper ethics, a profile of Jack Benny by Gary Giddins, Christopher Hitchens on Louis Farrakhan, Edward Said's reading of Michael Walzer's Exodus & Revolution, and poetry by W.S. Merwin, Gavin Ewart, Edwin Denby and others. Other issues have been even more dazzling. Sonnenberg's taste tends to be Hellenic, leftish, mandarin, impeccable, a match for the beautiful yet austere design of his quarterly.
Partisan Review: The 50th Anniversary Edition, edited by William Phillips (Stein and Day, $12.95). The heyday of Partisan Review was four decades ago, but you'd never know it from this special issue; the contents page reads like a Who's Who of retired Columbia professors: Jacques Barzun, Alfred Kazin, William Phillips, Sidney Hook, Nathan Glazer. There are even excerpts from Lionel Trilling's notebooks, Stephen Spender's diary, and an interview, conducted by Diana Trilling, with Dwight Macdonald. A section called "Comments" dares to include Daniel Aaron, Lionel Abel, Irving Kristol, Irving Howe, and Harry Levin. As one is hard put to find a contributor under 60, don't look here for a report on what's happening now. The names may be distinguished, but the work seems peculiarly anachronistic.
Victorian Villainies, selected by Graham Greene and Hugh Greene (Penguin, $7.95). "In the Fog," writes Sir Hugh Greene in his introduction to this volume, "is one of the very best accounts of foggy Victorian London, the Londonwhich many Americans . . . believe still exists." Whether or not such a London does still exist, most Americans probably join with the president in wishing that it did -- which should make this anthology of four Victorian novels quite popular on this side of the Atlantic. The novels are The Great Tontine, by Hawley Smart; The Rome Express, by Major Arthur Griffiths; In the Fog, by Richard Harding Davis, and The Beetle, by Richard Marsh. The Greene brothers have been collecting Victorian crime novels since they were boys, and these four tales are among the gems that they believe should be brought back into print. Graham Greene needs, as they say, no introduction; Hugh is a former foreign correspondent, BBC executive, and selector of the stories in The American Rivals of Sherlock Holmes and other anthologies.