The Musicians , by Sempe' (Workman, $9.95). Sempe', the well-known French cartoonist and frequent contributor to The New Yorker, here collects more than 60 drawings of musicians. On one page, the young members of the St. James Infirmary Hot Five stand proudly in a living room while two older people (parents of one member) look out from another room. In another, a boy sits at the piano, staring worriedly at sheet music by Mozart. Above him in a frame is a ticket to the Mozart Museum in Salzburg. In a third, a pianist, risen from the bench, bows to the audience; the hall is empty except for five figures -- an older couple and a younger woman with two children. There is a wealth of detail in some of these pictures -- in a two-page illustration of people coming to a concert, an older woman fusses over the hem of another woman's skirt. Elsewhere, we see what may have happened -- a hapless man looks down at his foot which has trapped his companion's long skirt.
King Pin: New Zippy Strips , by Bill Griffith (Dutton, $7.95). Reading "Zippy" is like rummaging through an attic filled with all the detritus of popular culture. The self-referential clown-suited pinhead with his omnipresent five o'clock shadow is a repository for all the images, catchwords, rock 'n' roll and popular song titles and lyrics and product names since the 1950s. And somehow, all of these get churned around in his tiny brain so that when they come out, it's hard to believe he's serious. Or is he? One example: Talking to a mechanic, Zippy learns his car needs major repairs, but his major concern is the ash tray. Once he's assured the ashtray's okay, he decides what he wants -- "Change the air freshner, install a full set of fuzzy dice and give me the mandarin shrimp and an order of pork fried rice."
The Roads to Sata: A 2,000-Mile Walk through Japan , by Alan Booth (Penguin, $6.95). Alan Booth, an Englishman who has lived in Japan since 1970, decided to walk most of the length of Japan, from its northernmost point almost to the southern tip. The reason: "Because I'd lived in Japan for a quarter of my life and still didn't know whether I was wasting my time. I hoped that by taking four months off to do nothing but scrutinize the country I might come to grips with the business of living here, and get a clearer picture, for better of worse." He didn't, he admits, despite the great distance he covered and meeting 1,200 Japanese.
Elia and the Last Essays of Elia , by Charles Lamb (Oxford University Press, $8.95). Although every high-school prose and poetry text includes "A Dissertation on Roast Pig" (or used to, at any rate), few of Charles Lamb's other familiar essays are well-known. This volume collects those he wrote under the pseudonym Elia for London magazine in the 1820s. They are characterized by an elegant style and a deft way with self-analysis, as in "Confessions of a Drunkard." Among the collection's bons mots is this one: "Newspapers always excite curiosity. No one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment."
The Journals of Andre' Gide: Volume One, 1889-1924; Volume Two, 1924-1949 , translated from the French and edited by Justin O'Brien (Northwestern University Press, $14.95 each). Andre' Gide was the most self-conscious of writers. His most ambitious novel, Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The Counterfeiters) comes complete with a journal on its composition; and among various entries in these, his principal journals -- and one of the great autobiographical works of the century -- the reader can discover how Gide reacted to the novel's critical reception and his second thoughts about it. The two volumes are the handiwork of a man literary to his very bones -- and who, in his later years, seems to have read more in English than in his native French. (An irony: he loathed Aldous Huxley's Point Counter Point, which was strongly influenced by Les Faux-Monnayeurs.) He also hobnobbed with the great men of his day, including De Gaulle, who charmed him, and Malraux, who nearly knocked him over with his "dazzling and staggering flow of words."
The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Rediscovered Diary of Opal Whiteley , presented by Benjamin Hoff (Warner, $9.95). This book has a strange history. The Story of Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart was first published in 1920. It was advertised as the diary that young Opal Whiteley had kept as a girl of 6. Although it was an immediate success, a year later it was out of print, and Opal accused of having perpetuated a literary fraud. Opal herself moved to England and then to India and then back to England where she lived working on books that were never published. In 1948, she was institutionalized, after she was found unable to care for herself. Since then, there has been increasing interest in Opal and her diary. The present volume reprints sections of her diary and includes a biography of Opal and a history of the controversy.
Class Reunion '65 , by David Wallechinsky (Penguin, $4.95). Americans who graduated from high school in 1965 were the vanguard of the postwar baby boom. Now on the cusp of 40, they have attained the adult form that, by and large, will characterize their lives. David Wallechinsky, of the popularizing and almanacical Wallace/Wallechinsky clan, has crisscrossed the country, interviewing grown-up '65ers, who tell their own stories in this engaging and informative book. A boy whom the author labels "an average guy" turns out to be a high-school teacher. The girl who was "teacher's pet" has become a civil-rights lawyer. All of the interviewees speak with heartfelt bemusement about the shock of finding themselves aging.
SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY
Vacuum Flowers , by Michael Swanwick (Ace, $2.95). Sometime in the future, humanity is divided between those who have begun to colonize the planets and those who have remained on Earth. Great corporations, almost nation states, control most of the technology. Plug-in personalities are prime consumer items; when Rebel Elizabeth Mudlark dies in a space accident, her personality is recorded and sent for testing. During testing, the personalities of the tester and Mudlark are fused and Mudlark, in a new body but aware of herself, escapes to begin an odyssey that will take her to Earth before she finally goes home again.
The Phantom of the Opera , by Gaston Leroux (Signet, $3.95). Rereleased to coincide with the imminent opening of the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, this is a novel with rare staying power. Prior to its current incarnation, it inspired four films, including Brian de Palma's 1974 version with a rock-music setting. Its creator was an enormously fat Parisian, who used to let his family know he had completed a a novel by firing a shot in the air. The shot for this one rang out in 1911.
Cinemonsters , edited by Charles G. Waugh, Martin H. Greenberg and Frank D. McSherry Jr. (TSR, $7.95). Collected here are 13 stories that served as the basis for films and television movies. Among them are John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?" which was released as The Thing in 1951 and 1982; Robert Bloch's "The Skull of the Marquis de Sade," released as The Skull in 1965; and H.P. Lovecraft's "Herbert West -- Reanimator," released as Re-Animator in 1985. The book includes photographs from the films, as well as an appendix that provides credit information from the films and brief explanations of how they differ from the original stories.