FICTION

Dark Arrows: Great Stories of Revenge , edited by Alberto Manguel (Clarkson Potter, $10.95). Most anthologies are pretty mechanically put together: the finest stories of so-and-so, all the obvious time travel tales, locked room puzzles, classic poems. But occasionally an editor of real imagination comes along: a Walter de la Mare compiles Come Hither (still the best introduction to poetry for young people), or an E.F. Bleiler rediscovers negelected masterworks of 19th-century genre fiction. Alberto Manguel clearly belongs to this select company. Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature was the best such anthology for many a year; it included work by writers as varied as Mircea Eliade, Italo Calvino and Max Beerbohm, as well as more familiar masters of the supernatural. This new collection demonstrates the same expertise at discovering the unexpected: Manguel's taste ranges from Lord Dunsany to Faulkner, from Heinrich von Kleist to Frederick Forsyth, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Nadine Gordimer. Perhaps the only familiar revenge stories he reprints are Bram Stoker's horrific "The Squaw" and Saki's "Sredni Vashtar," the tale of a lonely little boy who transforms a wild ferret into an avenging god: "His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white. His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death. Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful." Each story is preceded by a headnote, invariably intelligent, precise and useful.

A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel , by Tom Phillips (Thames & Hudson, $19.95). This is the first revised edition -- it includes some dozen or so new pages -- of one of the more winning and witty artistic experiments of recent times. After reading an account of William Burroughs' cut-up technique, painter Phillips decided to try something similar with the very first book he could find for threepence. That turned out to be W.H. Mallock's A Human Document, an 1892 Victorian triple decker. Using its melodramatic pages as a kind of backdrop, he imposed various patterns on the text searching for meaningful and arresting phrases, in the process creating a prose-poetry reminiscent of Beckett or Zen aphorism. Some of the pages are also pretty sexy and the whole book addictive like Max Ernst's collage novels. One page, for instance, looking vaguely like a modern painting, has these words emerging in scattered balloons: "intellect crippled, and" "softened;" "The lame one's a critic. 'I saw his name on a label. makes me ill, ducky, I shall go to him for a bottle of art" "art" "art" "art" "art" "art." Obviously not a book for everyone, but those who like it will like it a lot.

NONFICTION

Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds , by Joy Adamson (Pantheon, $7.95). First published in 1960, this is the classic "animal story." The tale begins when George Adamson, a game warden in Kenya, shot a lioness that had threatened to attack him. Afterwards, he discovered that the animal merely had been protecting her three cubs. They were less than a week old, so Adamson brought them home to his wife Joy. On the theory that "if there must be a lion in the household, then let it be as small as possible," Joy Adamson chose to keep the smallest cub, Elsa. (The other two were sent to a Dutch zoo). Born Free recounts the Adamsons' experiences with Elsa (who accompanied them on safari) and their successful decision to allow her to return to the wild.

Robinson Jeffers: Poet of California , by James Karman;

Helen Hunt Jackson: A Lonely Voice of Conscience , by Antoinette May (Chronicle Books, $5.95 each). As the latest volumes in a series called The Literary West, these books celebrate authors who may have been neglected by the eastern literary establishment or whose western phases deserve close inspection. Mark Twain in California, for example, falls into the latter category, whereas these new titles fall into the former. Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) was a poet mesmerized by California wilderness, especially the Carmel-Big Sur coast, where he built his own house and wrote visionary nature poems. Helen Hunt Jackson (1831-1885) was a poet and novelist whose best-selling Ramona, "the first California protest novel," has been eclipsed by her A Century of Dishonor, an indictment of federal Indian policy so powerful that it landed her the post of special commissioner to study Indian problems.

The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War , by Martin Gilbert (Owl/Henry Holt, $12.95). The meticulously researched account, by a master historian, of how the leaders of what had been viewed as one of the most civilized countries in the world tried to murder nearly 8 million people. This examination of that monstrous savagery explores many of the irrational currents in European life, and the sources the author uses are unusual indeed: for instance, the records of Emanuel Ringelblum, chronicler of the Warsaw Ghetto, whose papers were found at war's end buried in milk cans beneath the rubble of the Polish capital.

Dave Barry's Bad Habits , by Dave Barry (Owl/Henry Holt, $5.95) Subtitled "A 100% Fact Free Book," this new volume of humorous reflections and pronunciamentos by one of the nation's most addictive funny men is made to order for those who need to augment their Saturday morning one-column-at-a-time fix of Dave Barry. Barry hits all the truly profound subjects of our time from Taxes, Your Finances and Scientific Stuff to Sport, Culture and the Weather. Here, for instance is Dave Barry on Wine: "Almost nobody can tell the difference between good wine and melted Popsicles without reading the label . . . When company comes for dinner, grab a bottle at random and . . . say "I chose the Escargot '63 rather than the Garc on '72 because the bonjour of the s'il vous plai~t would bring out the plume de ma tante of the Cheez Whiz without being too strident for the chili dogs." If you think that's funny you should read his Tangy Barbecue Sauce Recipe.

How To Talk Minnesotan: A Visitor's Guide,

by Howard Mohr (Penguin, $6.95) Planning a trip to the Big Soybean? Study this handy guide by a former scriptwriter for Prairie Home Companion beforehand so you won't have people pointing or staring every time you open your mouth. The book comes complete with a reliable introduction by the author's mechanic ("I don't say it's the best book I ever tried to read, but it's definitely in the average range, and if you keep at it, I think you can get through it without any trouble.") Lesson 1 in Basic Minnesotan involves getting acquainted with those three workhorses of daily conversation: "You bet," "That's different" and "Whatever." Lesson 25 covers such advanced topics as Minnesotan telephone usage and Saying Too Much (If you're visiting from the Big Apple, "think before you talk and then cut what you were planning to say by 90 percent.")

MYSTERIES

The 31st of February , by Julian Symons (Carroll & Graf, $3.50). Perhaps the most literary of crime novelists, Julian Symons is a poet, biographer of Carlyle and author of more than 20 mysteries, all of them written in his graceful prose. This early work, originally published in 1950, depicts a wife-murderer whom someone has caught onto. Otherwise how to explain the fact that the killer's desk calendar is repeatedly flipped back to the day of her death?

Saratoga Snapper , by Stephen Dobyns (Penguin, $3.95). Here is Charlie Bradshaw of the Charles F. Bradshaw Detective Agency in Sarasota Springs. Only things aren't going too well, so Bradshaw has a night job at his mother's hotel. And his partner, Victor Plotz, is in charge of hotel security. Just to make a few extra dollars, Victor has bought himself a camera and is taking pictures of tourists in the hotel bar and restaurant. But Victor may have photographed the wrong person, because he's attacked by a hit-and-run driver and the camera is stolen. The police seem to think the driver might just have wanted the camera but Charlie -- now investigating the murder of a hotel maid -- thinks something else is going on.

The Nightmare File , by Jack Livingston (NAL Onyx, $3.95). Detective Joe Binney's involvement in the case begins when he's called by the widow of a man who appears literally to have been scared to death. The man was a journalist, Gene Listing, working on a story about a tribe whose members sometimes die in their sleep while they are having nightmares. Before the case is over, there's been another murder, and Binney himself becomes the target of the killers.