Love Medicine and The Beet Queen by Louise Erdrich (Bantam, $5.50 each). Here are two novels by one of the most widely acclaimed novelists of recent years. The first is the multi-generational saga of two Native American families -- the Kashpaws and the Lamartines -- who live on and near a North Dakota Indian reservation. The characters are plain people who meet life's trials -- love and the loss of love, death, desire and anger -- with spirit and resilience. The opening scene relating hard-drinking June Kashpaw's death in a blizzard is a blockbuster. In the second, young Karl and Mary Adare arrive by boxcar in Argus, N.D., at the height of the Depression. They look for refuge to their mother's sister, Fritzie, wife of the local butcher. So begins a 40-year family history that overflows with skillfully drawn characters who are linked together through ties of sexual obsession, jealousy and generous love.
Appalachee Red , by Raymond Andrews, afterword by Richard Bausch, illustrations by Benny Andrews (University of Georgia Press, $9.95). When it was published in 1978, Appalachee Red won the James Baldwin Prize. The first in a trilogy of novels set in rural Georgia (all scheduled to be reissued by the University of Georgia Press), it begins in 1918 with a woman awaiting the return of her husband from prison, afraid because the child is not his. Their world is the black world of the small Southern community -- though it is circumscribed by whites, their lives are possessed of their own richness. Raymond Andrewes writes, "My American roots (like those of most Afro-Americans) are southern rural. This particular land and the individuals who have lived and died on it are what my books are about."
The Tiger's Daughter , by Bharati Mukherjee (Penguin, $6.95). At 15, Tara Banerjee left her home in Calcutta to come to the United States to study at Vassar. During summer school, she met the American she would marry. Now it is seven years later, and she has come back to India, to live "in a city that took for granted most men were born to suffer," as a member of a "class that lived by Victorian rules." In this novel, she is compelled -- by both her long absence and her attempts to explain India to her husband, who has remained in America -- to acknowledge how much she is torn between two worlds and yet must strive to heal the breach.
Jazz Heritage , by Martin Williams (Oxford; $7.95). Jazz Heritage collects about 35 short pieces by Martin Williams, everything as Williams notes in his Preface, "except straight interviews and short biographical sketches." Thus there are appreciations such as "In Memoriam, Bud Powell," a brief, appreciation of the talented (and equally troubled) pianist written the year of Powell's death. In a section called "Musicians at Work," Williams profiles Ornette Coleman, Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond, Duke Ellington and others. The book also includes a selection of notes written for record jackets, as well as a section on jazz criticism and scholarship.
Running Critical: The Silent War, Rickover, and General Dynamics , by Patrick Tyler (Perennial/Harper & Row, $8.95). This book by a Washington Post reporter asserts that the U.S. Navy, reacting to the Soviet undersea threat, built at massive cost a tragically flawed class of nuclear attack submarines. The author vividly relates how corporate greed, cost overruns and other scandals associated with the affair besmirched the reputations of executives at the nation's largest defense contractor, General Dynamics, and clouded the last years of the father of the nuclear navy, Adm. Hyman G. Rickover.
SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
Ronin , by Frank Miller (Warner Books, $12.95). What do you get if you blend the films Yojimbo and Escape from New York with William Gibson's novel Neuromancer, and then throw in a few touches of Colossus: The Forbin Project, Robert Heinlein's story "Waldo" and Richard McKenna's novella "Casey Agonistes"? Oh yes, you should then hire Frank Miller -- creator of The Dark Knight Returns -- to tell the story as a comic, one partially modeled after the Japanese manga. The result would be Ronin, a razzle-dazzle tale of the epic battle between a samurai warrior, reincarnated in a run-down 21st century, and an ancient, all-powerful demon disguised as the director of a huge computer complex. The artwork transforms this melodramatic revenge tale into a visual nightmare -- dark tones predominate, figures tend to the grotesque, action never flags and the panels look like shards of broken glass. Even the straightforward plot gradually twists back on itself, the final pages blurring illusion, fantasy and reality in a kind of purifying violence.
Behold the Man , by Michael Moorcock (Carroll & Graff, $2.95). Michael Moorcock mixes religion and psychology in this story of a man who travels in a time machine to search for Christ and the beginning of Christianity. A misfit who has dabbled in many areas -- Jungian psychology, Celtic mythology and Nordic lore -- Karl Glogauer is a kind of Christian by default: He believes he should believe only because there seems to be nothing else. The time machine works, and Glogauer finds himself in Machaerus, among a community of Essenes led by John the Baptist, who believes that Glogauer is the messiah who will lead them to freedom.
House of Shudders: An Anthology of Haunted House Stories , edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh (Daw Books, $3.50). Ghosts and other terrifying phenomena fill the 17 stories contained in this book. The tales range from Edward Bulwer-Lytton's "The House and the Brain," wherein an English gentleman of no little courage spends the night in a haunted house and after being horrifed (but not scared) he proceeds to unravel the mystery and render the house fit for human occupation. Robert Bloch's "Lizzie Borden Took an Axe" offers a supernatural explanation for the deaths of the parents of that famous spinster of Fall River, Mass., while Charles L. Grant's "The Children, They Laugh So Sweetly," presents a former schoolteacher and his wife in the Victorian house they are restoring, and the mysterious laughter that echoes, every so often, from somewhere inside the house. There are also stories by such masters as Bram Stoker and Stephen King.