FICTION

The Tall Woman , by Wilma Dykeman (Wakefield Books, 405 Clifton Heights, Newport Tenn. 37821, $8.95). Originally published in 1962 and out of print for a number of years since, this powerful novel is about a 19th-century woman's triumphant struggle against adversity. Like Dykeman's other work, it is set in the Appalachians, which she depicts with intimate knowledge and deep affection. She also manages the not-inconsiderable feat of writing mountain dialect without lapsing into aw-shucks patois. The City of Anger , by William Manchester (Laurel, $4.95). Before he became famous as a biographer and historian, the author wrote four novels. Here is the best of them, first published in 1953. It is an expose' of crime and corruption in a large eastern city -- for which read Baltimore where Manchester was once a young newspaperman. The descriptions of ghetto life were way ahead of its time, and native Baltimoreans will recognize much local color and many human types which the intervening years have not obscured. The Best of Everything , by Rona Jaffe (Delta Diamond, $6.95). This new line is described in a press release as "a showcase for best-selling fiction from the past," which certainly is what The Best of Everything was when it came out in 1958. Rona Jaffe was herself fresh out of Radcliffe when she wrote this account of how several young women -- they called them "girls" in those days -- struggled with careers and romances in the high-powered world of Manhattan publishing. If some of it seems rather quaintly anachronistic now -- dresses for $12.95! -- and if Jaffe was given to an awkward didacticism ("Autumn is rebirth in New York"), the story is still appealing and the portrait of Manhattan is vivid; connoisseurs of Hollywood schlock will recall that it was made into a six-hankie tearjerker. A Servant's Tale , by Paula Fox (Penguin, $6.95). Paula Fox renders the life of a poor family, first in the islands, then in the tenements of New York, with care and detail. Luisa, the servant girl of the title and narrator of the story, is full of wonder and dreams, as she comes to grips with her circumstances. She is the illegitimate daughter of an island planter. What that means to her in her homeland, and later in her new life in America, is poignant and not without irony. The Waterfall , by Margaret Drabble (New American Library, $6.95). Jane Gray is caught in difficult circumstances, to say the least. Her own husband has left her, just as their second child is being born, and she has fallen in love with her cousin's husband James. She seems no more capable of saving herself than if she were being swept over a waterfall. The intricacies of her moral dilemma, fraught with the difficulties of a complicated domestic life, are the stuff of this haunting novel by one of Britain's finest novelists. NONFICTION Nicaragua: Revolution in the Family , by Shirley Christian (Vintage, $8.95). The author covered Latin America for the Miami Herald and The New York Times. This, her account of the Nicaraguan revolution and counterrevolution, has been widely praised for its unemotional treatment of a subject highly contentious in American domestic politics. The paperback edition contains new material on the Contras not found in the hardcover original. Shakespeare , by F.E. Halliday (Thames and Hudson, $9.95). It is a myth that not very much is known about the life of Shakespeare. The great deal that has been discovered over the years has come to light through the diligence of a host of scholars, and here F.E. Halliday has woven it together with 151 illustrations to make a fine, brief biography for the layman. Thames and Hudson is also bringing out other short "lifes," another being the very handsome W.B. Yeats , by Michael MacLiammo'ir and Eavan Boland ($9.95). Martina , by Martina Navratilova with George Vecsey (Fawcett, $3.95). A candid account of her professional and personal life by one of today's greatest tennis players. Martina Navratilova recalls her childhood in Czechoslovakia where as a tennis-crazy 10-year-old, she dreamt of coming to America; she recounts her first meetings on court with Chris Evert, the beginnings of what has become a legendary rivalry, and she writes frankly about her sexuality and her relationships with other women. Breaking Points , by Jack and Jo Ann Hinckley with Elizabeth Sherrill (Berkley, $3.95). The parents of John Hinckley, who on March 30, 1981, attempted to kill President Reagan, have lived through a progressive nightmare -- first the events that day, then the trial, and finally its aftermath. This book is a clear-eyed look over the past, as they trace the signs that their son was losing his touch with reality, even as the family was living the life style of American success. It is also their story of survival, of learning to cope and finding strength through faith. The Enthusiast: A Life of Thornton Wilder , by Gilbert Harrison (Fromm, $12.95). Thornton Wilder was a writer who won popular and critical acclaim in his lifetime for many works, for instance the plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth (another play was the basis for the brassy Hello!, Dolly) and the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey. He himself was a gregarious person, who made friends easily, and he moved in the highest social and intellectual circles. There was, however, a private wound -- homosexuality. The story of this complicated man -- perhaps nowadays underrated as an artist -- is expertly told in this gracefully written biography. The Illustrated 'A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers' , edited by Carl F. Hovde, William L. Howarth and Elizabeth Hall Witherell (Princeton, $10.50). In the late summer of 1839 Henry Thoreau and his older brother John took a boating trip up the lazy, local river, the Concord, which flows into the much more impressive Merrimack. After John's death in 1842 Thoreau decided to memorialize him with an account of their journey, with philosophical and historical asides. The result was this marvelous book, here gloriously republished in the paperback of the definitive Princeton hardcover edition. It is "illustrated" because the intelligent editors decided to include the Gleason collection of rare photographs taken in the Concord area between 1899 and 1937. They are suitably sylvan, and Thoreau's sturdy prose delights, as in the book's stately opening sentence: "The Musketaquid or Grass-ground River, though probably as old as the Nile or Euphrates, did not begin to have a place in civilized history, until the fame of its grassy meadows and its fish attracted settlers out of England in 1635, when it received the other but kindred name of Concord from the first plantation on its banks, which appears to have been commenced in a spirit of peace and harmony." To Absent Friends From Red Smith (Signet, $4.95). Eulogies of sport heroes, 182 of them, from Babe Ruth and Joe Louis to the unsung, by the late, great dean of American sportswriters. "Dying is no big deal," wrote Red. "The least of us will manage that. Living is the trick." In Defense of Animals , ed. by Peter Singer (Harper & Row/ Perennial, $6.95) In 1975, Peter Singer's Animal Liberation was published; in the decade since then, his impassioned arguments in defense of the ideas that animals also have rights and that human beings should learn to see themselves, ethically and ecologically speaking, as but one species among many, have ceased to be laughable and become respectable. In Defense of Animals is the handbook for the animal rights' movement in the '80s, a collection of essays by biologists, philosophers, journalists and others reiterating the movement's history, spelling out its principles -- including opposition to zoos -- and telling the stories of real outrages and various ALF raids and "actions," successful and otherwise, of the past 10 years. Pictures from the Water Trade: Adventures of a Westerner in Japan by John David Morley (Perennial Library, $6.95). Englishman Morley was enjoying Japan well enough during a visit to study the language but felt that something was missing: there was a deeper dimension in Japanese life to which he, like nearly all Westerners, was not privy. Then by accident he got mixed up in the water trade, the Japanese term for the dockside bar life and related underworld. Suddenly Morley was able to make a quantum leap in his understanding of Japan. He met people whose paths he would never otherwise have crossed and fell in love with a young Japanese woman. His new insightfulness spilled over into areas having little or nothing to do with the water trade, as evidenced by his brilliant analysis of shodo, Japanese calligraphy, in which he compares the all-or-nothing intensity of forming the characters to the short, furious bouts of sumo wrestling. This is a book for anyone who wants to understand Japan in a way that bypasses political analysis and economic forecasts to get at the soul of a people. Leaving the Nest: The Complete Guide to Living on Your Own , by Dorinne Armstrong and Richard Armstrong (Beech Tree, $9.95). Things your mother would tell you if you would only listen. Sometimes its easier to swallow advice if it's not delivered in maternal tones, and this book is full of it -- the kind of knives to buy for your first kitchen, how to hang the shower curtain, even a few simple recipes. Fire from the Mountain: The Making of a Sandinista , by Omar Cabezas (Plume, $7.95). Omar Cabezas was recruited by the Sandinistas in 1968 when he was a young student in the old Spanish capital of Leo'n. This memoir of his time spent in the services of the then-rebels against the Somoza power structure reveals much of how third-world revolutions are organized, executed and inspired. However, there is little about the mechanics of the Sandinista rebellion -- where their weapons came from or how close they were to the Cubans or Soviets. Cabezas, who has since become the chief political director at Nicaragua's Ministry of the Interior, reportedly did not "write" the book but spoke most of it into a tape recorder.