The Singapore Grip , by J.G. Farrell (Carroll & Graf, $4.95). J.G. Farrell was a chronicler of empire, particularly the empire under fire. His Siege of Krishnapur, a tale of British under attack during the Sepoy rebellion, won England's Booker prize for fiction. In this novel, the British are under attack again, this time by the Japanese tightening their grip on Singapore. As the Pacific world ignites around them and the Japanese lay siege to the British island, two wealthy European families reluctantly come to realize that things will never be the same.
The Fifth Son , by Elie Wiesel (Warner, $4.50). Elie Wiesel has written an intensely poetic novel of painful memory -- the story of a young man who pieces together his family's tragic history as Jews in Poland. In the end he is driven to act, to retrace their steps, to ferret out their tormentor, and curse him with the truth. NONFICTION
Your Wedding: Making It Perfect , by Yetta Fisher Gruen (Penguin, $8.95). From years of working on The Washington Post wedding desk, Yetta Fisher Gruen has learned about the concerns of bridal couples and their families. She's also amassed the information to answer their questions. This book, presented in a question and answer form, attempts to anticipate the needs and queries couples have about how to plan and execute weddings large and small.
Citizenship Without Consent: Illegal Aliens in the American Polity , by Peter H. Schuck and Rogers M. Smith (Yale University Press, $6.95). A law professor and a political science professor at Yale argue against constitutionally mandated citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.
The Great Rehearsal: The Story of the Making and Ratifying of the Constitution of the United States , by Carl Van Doren (Penguin, $6.95). Among the generation of American historians who flourished in the interwar years, Carl Van Doren was rivaled only by Samuel Eliot Morison for felicity of style. His life of Benjamin Franklin, which won the 1938 Pulitzer Prize, remains the best biography; and no modern work on America's birth is as vividly written as his Secret History of the American Revolution. This work, published in 1948 two years before his death, chronicles in human terms the drafting and adoption of the great charter whose bicentennial will be celebrated next year.
Conversations With Lillian Hellman , edited by Jackson R. Bryer (University Press of Mississippi, $9.95). Over the years Lillian Hellman has been interviewed by countless reporters, novelists, and just plain fans who managed to get in the door. This interesting compendium includes exchanges between Hellman and the likes of Dan Rather, Nora Ephron and Bill Moyers, as well as interviews from the '30s when her plays opened in New York.
The Tale of Beatrix Potter , by Margaret Lane (Penguin, $4.95). As a young woman, she was kept a virtual recluse by her father. Later, as Mrs. William Heelis, wife of a Lake District solicitor, she was to be seen in the '20s and '30s clumping around cattle shows and sheep fairs in sensible shoes and brandishing a stout stick. It was known to very few people that this formidable woman, well known locally as a farmer and a shrewd purchaser of land, was in fact the creator of Peter Rabbit, Tom Kitten, Jemima Puddle-duck and all the other magic names that still delight new generations of small children. This is the definitive biography, based on the Heelis family papers and Beatrix's private diaries. LITERARY MAGAZINES
The Yale Review: Autumn 1985, Winter 1986 , edited by Kai Erikson (Yale University Press, 92A Yale Station, New Haven, Conn. 06520, $5 each; subscription, $14). For its 75th anniversary this distinguished magazine offers a two-number retrospective of some of its best fiction, poetry and commentary. In the winter issue Hamlin Garland (now there's a blast from the past) remembers Stephen Crane; Ford Madox Ford describes what it was like to collaborate with Joseph Conrad (Ford did all the real work -- or so he slyly suggests); Frank O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, Eudora Welty, and John Cheever demonstrate their mastery of the short story. Maureen Howard also contributes a survey of the Yale Review's involvement with fiction. Winter 1986 ranges even further: Thomas Mann reflects on Germany with his usual gravitas; Wallace Stevens meditates the "Effects of Analogy"; Katherine Anne Porter charts the creation of her masterpiece, "Noon Wine"; and Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost represent American poetry. Retrospectives include a poetry survey by Penelope Laurans and an essay by the brilliant and crotchety dean of music critics, B.H. Haggin.
Antaeus: Ford Madox Ford , edited by Daniel Halpern; guest editor Sondra J. Stang (18 West 30th St. New York, N.Y. 10001, $10; four issues, $20). Admirers of Ford Madox Ford -- top vote-getter for most neglected, important modern writer, Wyndham Lewis being the runner-up -- will want to acquire this special issue if only for the bibliographies and pictures. The star essay here is William H. Gass' "Ford's Impressionism," a meringue of theory, example, and verbal whipped cream. A few of the other articles faintly smell of the academy -- no names -- but the whole volume suggests that Ford is in the midst of one of his periodic rediscoveries.
Fantasy Review: April 1986 , edited by Robert A. Collins (500 N.W. 20th St., Boca Raton, Fla. 33431, $2.75; subscription, $20). Any glance at the best seller list, or the cinema marquee, will confirm that fantasy and science fiction are flourishing. Fans of the genre should check out this monthly, a grab-bag of articles, publishing information, reviews, and commentary. This month Brian Aldiss addresses the subject of what a science fiction novel should be about; C.N. Manlove focuses on the shared attitudes of fantasy readers and writers; Karl Edward Wagner and Diana Waggoner remember Manly Wade Wellman, whose career spanned the decades from Weird Tales in the '30s to a novel completed just before his death this year. The book review section, edited by Carol McGuirk, considers several dozen books in brief compass. Tom Maddox's essay on William Gibson, the leader of the cyberpunk school of writing, skillfully shows that author's links to the American hard-boiled tradition. Lots of inventive artwork also enliven this informative and fun magazine.
Shakespeare Quarterly: Reviewing Shakespeare , edited by John F. Andrews (Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C. 20003, $7; four issues, $25). Although this scholarly journal appeals chiefly to academics and professional Shakespeareans, this special issue should fascinate even the most casual theater-goer. Richard L. Coe writes about "The Daily Reviewer's Job of Work" and along the way excoriates Peter Sellars; Stephen Booth discusses the differences between a superb role and a superb performance, emphasizing the difficulty, verging on impossibility, of creating a charismatic Cleopatra; Ralph Berry considers "The Reviewer as Historian" and S.P. Cerasano offers "Churls Just Want to Have Fun: Richard III and its Reviewers" while Paul Barry discusses an ever-popular view in "Let's Kill All the Critics."
Shenandoah: No. 1, 1985-86 , edited by James Boatwright (Box 722, Lexington, Va. 24450, $3.50; subscription, $14). Although this issue features stories by Eleanor Ross Taylor and Joyce Carol Oates, as well as a full roster of poetry, the 50-page centerpiece is Guy Davenport's "Claiming Kin: Artist, Critic and Scholar as Family." Originally delivered as the Glasgow lectures at Washington and Lee University, this paper focuses on notions of literary consanguinity, on the way writers respond to previous books. This may sound like Harold Bloom territory, but Davenport makes it utterly his own, lacing his argument with the hodge-podge of learning and trivia for which he is known and admired. The man will turn over half a library to make an essay. He traces the genealogy of Yeats' Crazy Jane poems (back to George Meredith), suggests Robert Walser's Jakob von Gunten as the starting place for major work by Hesse, Mann and Kafka, and generally displays the genial capaciousness of a Robert Burton. "Art," says Davenport, "as a continuity is given to refining, or remaking with greater economy and sharper effect." Not only first-rate literary entertainment, Davenport's lectures also rightly stress scholarship as the proper springboard for criticism.
Another Chicago Magazine, Number 14 , edited by Lee Webster and Barry Silesky (Another Chicago Press, Box 11223, Chicago, Ill. 60611, $5). There's a lot of poetry and fiction in ACM but some of the nonfiction stands out: a conversation with Grace Paley, a conspectus of small press poetry, and a really terrific column by John Matthias titled "Not for Sale in USA." The focus here is British poetry and Matthias writes with such gusto, knowledge and love that many readers will be dashing off air-letters to Blackwell's and Foyle's to acquire the books he describes. The chief emphasis this issue is poet-translators, with fine brief essays on Christopher Logue's War Music (an adaptation of parts of The Iliad), Tony Harrison's poetry and his translation of Aeschylus, and work by Seamus Heaney and Peter Russell. Matthias also looks closely at Peter Levi's inaugural lecture as Professor of Poetry at Oxford in a discussion of that classicist's translation of the Serbo-Croatian epic, The Battle of Kosovo. Every word of this is exciting for anyone in the least interested in poetry.