A Place to Come To, by Robert Penn Warren (Dell Laurel, $4.95). Originally published in 1977, this is Warren's most recent novel and perhaps his most autobiographical. It is the story of Jed Tewksbury, who rises from poor-white-trash beginnings in rural Alabama to become a professor of classical and medieval languages at the University of Chicago. Now he is exploring his past, because "we are all stuck with trying to find the meaning of our lives, and the only thing we have to work on, or with, is our past." The exploration leads him back to the South, and to a woman who played a crucial role in his early life. As is true of all Warren's novels, A Place to Come To is filled with passion and argument, and with powerful descriptions of the southern land he knows so well; All the King's Men and Night Rider remain his best, but this is not far behind.
This Real Night, by Rebecca West (Penguin, $6.95). The first line of this posthumous novel exemplifies Rebecca West's aphoristic style: "The day was so delightful that I wished one could live slowly as one can play music slowly." Music is central again in this sequel to West's best novel, The Fountain Overflows, the story of the Aubrey family, based loosely on West's own.
Puritans Among the Indians: Accounts of Captivity and Redemption, 1676-1724, by Alden T. Vaughan and Edward W. Clark (Belknap/Harvard University Press, $7.95). No tale of woe was dearer to the 18th-century Puritan heart than an account of an Indian kidnapping of an English settler. Reminiscent in some ways of the horror stories from 16th- century Ireland, and the conflict there between Catholic and Protestant, the New England tales dwelt on the racial indignity suffered by the Indians' victims and the spiritual meaning of their ordeal. Here are eight accounts of kidnappings, told in modern English, and recalling a time when the English settlements extended no further north than Deerfield, Massachusetts. The title of one gives the tenor of all eight -- "God's Mercy Surmounting Man's Cruelty," by Elizabeth Hanson, who was abducted by a French and Indian war party in 1724 from Dover, New Hampshire.
Baron Philippe: The Very Candid Autobiography of Baron Philippe Rothschild, by Joan Littlewood (Ballantine, $8.95). The "autobiography" of Baron Philippe is actually "by" Joan Littlewood, but never mind: it is fine entertainment. The man who managed the winery that produces Chateau Mouton Rothschild and Mouton Cadet turns out to be an earthy, engaging fellow who describes himself as "a peasant in a silk nightshirt." He has a taste for the opposite sex that, by his proud testimony, he has indulged on countless occasions; his only rules, he says, are that "I never deflower and I do not persist if the lady doesn't want me -- there are plenty more fish."
The 1986 Baseball Encyclopedia Update (Macmillan, $7.95). If you own the sixth edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia, which came out last spring, this paperback is all you need to bring it completely up to date. In the past Macmillan has published new editions of the encyclopedia approximately every three years, thus requiring fans and statisticians to pay full price -- $29.95 -- in order to acquire a relatively small amount of new information. Now, for the comparatively painless price of $7.95, the fan can add all 1985 statistics to the sixth edition; it will be interesting to see if in the future Macmillan issues updates in the same years that it brings out new editions of the encyclopedia.
Collected Poems, 1917-1982, by Archibald MacLeish (Houghton Mifflin, $12.95). Over a very long lifetime (1892-1982), as Yale man, Doughboy, expatriate, Librarian of Congress, and Harvard professor, MacLeish moved at the center of his times. Perhaps as a result his poetry seems less inbred than many of his succesors, and more virile and refreshingly American in expression. Allen Tate thought MacLeish was too political to be a good poet, but in fact the political poems seem on target, as in "Speech to Those Who Say Comrade": "The brotherhood is not by the blood certainly,/ But neither are men brothers by speech -- by saying so:/ Men are brothers by life lived and are hurt for it."
H.D.: Collected Poems, 1912-1944, edited by Louis L. Martz (New Directions, $15.95). In 1911, at age 25, Hilda Doolittle, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1886 and brought up in a strict Moravian religious tradition, moved to London, and the heady world of Ezra Pound and D.H. Lawrence. Influenced by modernism in literature and psychoanalysis, H.D. followed her personal star, and the cost of the liberation was often high: disastrous lovers and poets' quarrels. It is all here, reflected in her verse, in which there is often an admirable fortitude: "At least I have the flowers of myself,/ and my thoughts, no god/ can take that;/ I have the fervour of myself for a presence/ and my own spirit for light . . . "
Far to Go, by Noel Streatfeild (Dell/Yearling, $2.95; ages 8-12). Continuing a welcome program of making British novelist Noel Streatfeild's work available to a new generation, we now have in paperack the sequel to Thursday's Child. Margaret Thursday, the baby left in a basket with three of everything, has gone from gruesome orphanage to seedy traveling theater. Orphans, however, in Streatfeild's world have a wonderful way of coming out on top. So after various adventures (including a rather melodramatic kidnapping by an evil, witchlike matron) we leave Margaret a successful child actress with both protectors and friends. Poverty and the power of education are concurrent themes here. Streatfeild feels the second can always conquer the first. The background may be old-fashioned but the adventures and the children are very much alive.