Hot and Cool: Jazz Short Stories, edited by Marcela Breton (NAL Plume, $9.95). In the introduction to this collection, Marcela Breton observes that many jazz musicians have thought of themselves as storytellers and their music-making a form of telling tales. Here are 19 stories that, attempting to use words to depict music, reverse the process. The stories are by writers like Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, Donald Barthelme and Julio Cortazar. Included are such well-known stories as Eudora Welty's "Powerhouse" and James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues."
The Hive, by Camilio Jose Cela (Noonday, $8.95). This novel (banned for many years in Spain) presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of Madrid during World War II. The characters are small businessmen and their wives, a starving poet, a woman on the verge of selling herself to save her tubercular lover. Their stories are told in short takes, some scarcely a page long. And as the book progresses, the stories begin to intertwine: The poet borrows money to eat and then loses it; a musician who needs money to buy his wife glasses finds the money. A daughter leaving a rooming house after visiting her lover encounters her father in the stairway. A lonely man encounters an aging prostitute and falls in love. The author of many novels, Camilio Jose Cela won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1989.
Ryder, by Djuna Barnes (Dalkey Archive, $9.95). Djuna Barnes -- one of the legendary figures of modernism -- earned plaudits and an introduction by T.S. Eliot for her most famous book, Nightwood, which tends to overshadow much of her other work. But Ryder, a first novel, shows off her talent for baroque excess nearly as well, with spirited flights of invective, arias of verbal extravagance and mock-Elizabethan prose dotted with Euphuistic exuberance. This new edition is the most complete available and is graced by an afterword by Paul West, himself a master of sentences good enough to eat.
One Hundred Over 100: Moments with One Hundred North Amerian Centenarians, by Jim Heyne, photographs by Paul Boyer (Fulcrum Publishing, 350 Indiana St., Golden, Colo. 80401; $19.95). Black, white and Asian, native born and foreign born -- what the men and women who are featured in this book have in common is that they are all at least 100 years old. Their numbers include Geraldine Pringle, born in St. Kitts and a governess for a show business family in Hollywood, who says the secret to a long life is "men and brandy. Men are never too old." Or Mary Frances Annand, married five times, divorced four and widowed once -- "I admit it -- I'm a flirt," she says. Or Cora Lee and Oliver Glenn, one of several married couples in the book. They've been married 84 years, and she says, "We're just common people. We didn't try to be something we wasn't. We tried to be a lady and a gentleman."
The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, by Peter Brown (Columbia, $16). Ever since his brilliantly researched and beautifully written biography Augustine of Hippo, Peter Brown has been one of the greatest living authorities on the world of late antiquity. His new book focuses on the rise of celibacy and virginity in the early Christian era, and what that attitude toward the body tells us about these people, their religion and our roots. For those fascinated by this fertile period, several other recent books are also worth reading: Robin Lane Fox's Pagan and Christian, John Boswell's The Kindness of Strangers (about the abandonment of children), and the first volume of The History of Private Life, with chapters by various writers, including Peter Brown.
Jim Crow Guide: The Way it Was, by Stetson Kennedy (Florida Atlantic University Press, $14.95). "While there are many guides to the U.S.A," Stetson Kennedy tells us in his introduction, "this is the only one which faces the fact that . . . in America in reality some are more equal than others." While not quite a guidebook in the sense that it tells you where to go and how to get there, the Jim Crow Guide explores aspects of racism that were prevalent throughout American history. Topics include how one's race is defined and determined in many of the states, laws against miscegenation, voting rights and religion. This book was first published in France in 1956.