FICTION

I Am Mary Dunne, by Brian Moore. (Dutton/Obelisk, $7.95) Memento ergo sum. At 15 years, Mary Dunne realizes "we are what we remember." In a remarkable feat of imagination, Irish-Canadian novelist Brian Moore climbs into the very skin of a woman, to show us femaleness from the inside. Mary Lavery lives unhappily in New York; here she recreates through memory her past life in Canada and her previous incarnations, via marriage, as Mary Phelan and Mary Bell. By book's end, she has come to terms with her root self, Mary Dunne: "I was christened that and there is nothing wrong with my heart or my mind." This is a sparkling, touching story.

The Belton Estate, by Anthony Trollope (Oxford, $7.95). By now well over half of Anthony Trollope's 47 novels are back in print, with several more appearing each year. Trollope himself denigrated this one, admiiting in his Autobiography that "I seem to remember almost less of it than of any book that I have written." Usually a shrewd judge of his own work, in this case he was happily mistaken. The Belton Estate is vintage Trollope, with a heroine who becomes perversely more desirable to her rather indifferent suitor after she rejects him and a termagant mother-in-law-to-be.

Hostages to Fortune, by William Humphrey (Laurel, $3.95). William Humphrey is one of the best inheritors of Faulkner's mantle, custody of which entails the heartfelt conviction that the South is a more vivid territory than the rest of the United States. In works like Home from the Hill and The Ordways, Humphrey gave new life to the conviction just when literary demographers thought it was about to migrate West. In this, his newest novel, he focuses on a subject that transcends regions -- teen-age suicide -- and a shattered father's attempt to struggle out of the despair engulfing him after his son falls victim to the plague.

Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Short Fiction, by Stephen Crane (Bantam, $2.50). "Eh, Gawd, child, what is it dis time? Is yer fader beatin' your mudder, or yer mudder beatin' yer fader?" This scrap of dialogue was a startling thing to read in 1893, when Stephen Crane published it in Maggie, under the pseudonym of Johnston Smith. Crane brought a new subject matter into American fiction -- the brutal life of the slums -- and a heightened realism in his cleaned-up but still frank version of street talk. This Bantam Classics edition also includes four of Crane's best short stories, including "The Open Boat," which demonstrates that except for Jack London, no American writer has handled action more adeptly.

Young Hearts Crying, by Richard Yates (Delta, $8.95). Regarded by many critics as America's finest realistic novelist, Richard Yates writes about love and ambition in ways reminiscent of the storytelling masters of the '40s and the '50s, John P. Marquand, say, or James Gould Cozzens. But he is firmly contemporary, as this novel, published in 1984, attests. In it, Michael Davenport, Air Force gunner, postwar Harvard student and would-be writer, is torn apart by a conflict between his ideals and the demands of marriage, money and the expectations of fame.

Small World, by David Lodge (Warner, $4.50). David Lodge knows whereof he spoofs in this novel of academe: since 1960 he has taught English at the University of Birmingham, England. Small World is about globetrotting literary scholars, who preach semiotics to would-be adepts and direct all of their extra-conference energies to sexual conquest. Among its jolly set pieces is a scene in which two scholars are about to get down to boudoir business when a sudden paralysis seizes them both. After a bit of hemming and hawing, they both realize they are worried about the same thing -- that the other will publish an account of the experience. Reassured by mutual promises not to kiss and write, they resume where they left off. The book's central figure is the rowdy American, Morris Zapp, who roams about the world, delivering over and over his iconoclastic paper, "Textuality as Striptease."

Dear Mr. Capote and What I Know So Far, by Gordon Lish (Scribner, $5.95 and $4.95, respectively). "This is the twelfth start of the letter I am sending," begins Dear Mr. Capote, former Esquire fiction editor Gordon Lish's first novel. "Here is the reason it's the twelfth start. The reason is to try out voices! I want the right one." The search for the right voice characterizes not only the maniacal narrator of this novel but also, one would suppose, Lish himself. His highly original and strangely compelling fiction works best when he has found the perfect tone of voice for his almost invariably first-person storytellers. The epitome of his method is the long, hilarious diatribe directed by a Jewish father to his reclusive, celebrated novelist-son in a story called "For Jerom,e -- with Love and Kisses," the pillection, What I Know So Far.

NONFICTION

The Falconer of Central Park, by Donald Knowler (Bantam, $8.95). For an entire year British writer Donald Knowler took himself daily to Central Park, observed the wildlife, both human and animal, of that great urban park, and wrote about it charmingly in this book. Over the year he observed 131 species of bird, and nearly as many types of people. Most of them had stories to tell which he records here with care and detail.

The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, by Michael Mott (Houghton Mifflin, $12.95). This is the authorized biography of the most famous Trappist monk in America, whose The Seven Storey Mountain, published in 1948, established him as a major Roman Catholic thinker. Merton lived an astonishingly full life, richly detailed here, and the affecting story of his spiritual quest, complicated by his fame and the demands of the flesh, parallels the uncertainties about faith and belief of many Americans in the postwar years. His sense of humor and own sense of unworthiness, coupled with real writing ability, make Merton an unusually attractive figure. No one can read about his tragic death in 1968, by electrocution in Bangkok, without being moved.

A Quick and Dirty Guide to War -- Briefings on Present and Potential Wars: Updated Edition, by James F. Dunnigan and Austin Bay (Quill, $9.95). At any given moment there are dozens of wars underway around the globe. Our interest in them varies in proportion to the space accorded them on the nightly television news. From the very bloody and dangerous conflict between Iran and Iraq to low-level insurgency in the Philippines, from civil war in Afghanistan to various uprisings in Central America, peace doesn't seem in much danger of breaking out anytime soon. This reference book about the harsher realities of our times sometimes seems to beat the drum too loudly; still, the authors know what they're talking about and they present a great deal of information in very concise form.

Illuminations, by Walter Benjamin (Schocken, $7.95). When Walter Benjamin committed suicide in 1940 because he could no longer endure what was happening to Europe, Bertolt Brecht remarked that this was the first real loss Hitler had caused German literature to suffer. A critic, essayist, and aphorist, Benjamin may be regarded as the father of postmodernist criticism: his essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," included in this volume, is a seminal work in the serious examination of popular culture. Other essays cover Kafka, Baudelaire, and Proust, and there is a typically trenchant introduction by Hannah Arendt. Also available: Reflections (Schocken, $10.95), a further collection of Benjamin's aphorisms and essays.

Two Against Cape Horn, by Hal Roth (Norton, $8.95). The seas in the vicinity of Cape Horn, just off the southernmost tip of South America, are reputedly the roughest in the world. After reading about the region for years -- and amassing a large library on the subject -- California sailor and author Hal Roth and his wife Margaret decided to test their 35-foot sailboat Whisper and their own skills. They survived monstrous waves, shipwreck, and blizzards to write this thrilling first-person account.

American Eccentrics, by Carl Sifakis (Facts on File, $8.95). There are many ways to acquire fame, but Oofty Goofty's beats them all. He launched his outr,e career by impersonating a wild man on San Francisco's Market Street in the late 19th century: as part of his act, he rattled his cage and screamed "Oofty Goofty" -- whence his name. After being thrown out of several bars, he noticed that he barely felt pain, and his act underwent a startling transformation. For a dime you could kick him as hard as you pleased. For a quarter you could cudgel him with a walking stick. But his "piece de resistance was his 50-cent offering, which allowed a customer to slam him with a baseball bat." Eventually the boxer John L. Sullivan worked him over, and afterwards Oofty's threshold of pain was as low as anyone else's, and his career was over (never let it be said that Oofty was a masochist). There are lots more like him in this outlandishly entertaining book.

The Hedgehog and the Fox: An Essay on Tolstoy's View of History, by Isaiah Berlin (Touchstone, $4.95). Here is a new edition, with an introduction by Michael Walzer, of one of the most famous 20th-century essays. In it the British polymath Sir Isaiah Berlin seeks to discover the application of the old saying, "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing," to Leo Tolstoy. Without giving away his conclusion -- that is, whether Tolstoy was fox or hedgehog -- we can at least quote from Berlin's marvelous coda: "At once insanely proud and filled with self-hatred, omniscient and doubting everything, cold and violently passionate, contemptuous and self-abasing, tormented and detached, surrounded by an adoring family, by devoted followers, by the admiration of the entire civilized world, and yet almost wholly isolated, he is the most tragic of the great writers, a desperate old man, beyond human aid, wandering self-blinded at Colonus."

Uelsmann: Process and Perception, photographs and commentary by Jerry N. Uelsmann; essay by John Ames (University Presses of Florida, $14.95). A black sphere rests in the air a few feet above an outcrop of exfoliated granite. A mounted fish in a glass case rises out of the ocean. A cloud wanders about the interior balustrade of an elegant mansion. A silhouetted angel bears wings of palm leaf. These are the kinds of illusions that photographer Jerry N. Uelsmann creates, using multiple enlargers and producing as many as four negatives on the way to the final picture. Sometimes merely virtuosic, at their best his images mimic the anarchic substance of dreams.

Science Confronts the Paranormal, edited by Kendrick Frazier (Prometheus Books, $15.95). The going version of astrology dates from the second century A.D., skeptics Paul Kurtz and Andrew Fraknoi point out, an era when it was thought that the earth was the center of the universe and the planets numbered only six. "It is interesting," the authors innocently observe, "that the presumed astrological influences of the (additional) planets did not lead astrologers to discover them long before astronomers did." Other pieces in this comprehensive collection debunk supposed cases of poltergeists, mind-reading, palmistry ("Science or Hand Jive?") and pyramid-building engineers from outer space. The writers include James Randi, who discredits the magical claims of Uri Geller and others by duplicating them unsupernaturally, and the estimable Martin Gardner.

FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION

Chasch, by Jack Vance (Bluejay, $8.95). The first volume of Vance's "Planet of Adventure" tetralogy, this novel recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Adam Reith, marooned on the planet Tsch'ai. As in Vance's Big Planet, Tsch'ai hosts several cultures, and in each book Reith must confront, battle and outwit various captors, as he travels across the planet to solve its mysteries and to save his life. This edition, on acid-free paper, is marred by the rather juvenile pencil drawings of illustrator Philp Hagopian. Even at his most pulpy, Vance remains a writer of courtly, ironic prose, and the pictures here only detract from his elegant sentences.

The Wanderer, by Fritz Leiber (Tor, $2.95). Fritz Leiber is probably the most versatile writer in the whole realm of fantasy. Think of his most famous works: the horror novels Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness; the sword-and-sorcery tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser; the time paradox tales in The Big Time. This novel is his most ambitious work, a long, multiple-viewpoint account of what happens to earth and a group of people when a strange sphere enters the solar system and releases a chain of ecological disaster.

Less Than Human, by Robert Clarke (Avon, $2.95). Here's a novel with a bit of everything: a title reminiscent of Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human; an innocent Candide figure who falls to earth (cf. Walter Tevis' The Man Who Fell to Earth); a mean, troubled police lieutenant with a fat wife who could step out of a Philip K. Dick novel; a satirical style that recalls '50s sf (especially Pohl and Kornbluth); and characters who are types not people: the power-mad Chief Programmer, sexy androids, a commune of aging hippies (60 and up), and a kind of '50's teeny bopper looking for pure and true love. (She finds it wth a robot: cf. Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover). All this says pastiche, but also suggests the fun of Clarke's book -- an adventure story set in a cybernetic future and told with the zest and humor of early Vonnegut.