Disappearing Acts , by Terry McMillan (Washington Square Press, $8.95). This is the bittersweet story of the love affair between Franklin Swift, a sometime construction worker, and Zora Banks, a music teacher who wants to be a singer. They meet when Zora rents an apartment in Brooklyn and Franklin offers to help her move in. Soon, they are lovers. Terry McMillan tells this story from alternating points of view so that we hear both Zora and Franklin tell us how they move from being friends to lovers, and how they deal with Franklin's inability to hold a job, and the emergence of problems that even love cannot surmount.
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories , edited by Richard Dalby (Carroll & Graf, $8.95). This collection is notable for three things. First the editor includes stories by the masters of the genre -- J. Sheridan LeFanu, M. R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Saki, Edward Lucas White -- but not the old chestnuts that every other anthologist trots out. Thus, we get not White's "Lukundoo" but "The House of the Nightmare," not James's "Casting the Runes" but "The Haunted Dolls' House," not Blackwood's "The Willows" but "The Whisperers." Second, there are several stories by recent hair-raisers, such as Ramsey Campbell, Mark Valentine and David G. Rowlands. Finally, this is a heap of book -- 654 pages -- for its price, truly a mammoth anthology.
Joe Hill , by Wallace Stegner (Penguin, $8.95). Few figures in American history have been treated so well by the Muses after their deaths as the labor leader and songwriter, Joe Hill. He is the subject of what may be the gentlest and loveliest of all protest songs -- "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night," which has been sung by Paul Robeson and Joan Baez -- and of this biographical novel. Hill was a martyr to the labor cause (executed in 1915 for a murder he almost surely didn't commit) whose last words have become the stuff of myth: "Don't waste time mourning. Organize."
Going to Chicago: A Year on the Chicago Blues Scene , by Stephen Green and Laurence J. Hyman (Woodford Publishing, 4043 23rd St., San Francisco, Calif. 94114; $19.95). This elegant collection of more than 230 black-and-white photographs takes its title from the Jimmy Rushing-Count Basie song, and its spirit from the blues itself. Here are gritty, emotion-filled pictures of such blues luminaries as singer-songwriter Willie Dixon, guitar greats Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Albert King, Robert Cray and Son Seals, and harmonica men extraordinaire Junior Wells and James Cotton. All of the pictures were taken at nightclubs, blues festivals and other locations -- some look like spontaneous neighborhood performances. The photographs are by Stephen Green, while Laurence J. Hyman edited the book and wrote the introduction. Of special interest are first-person commentaries on the nature of the blues by guitarists B.B. King, Johnny Winter and Otis Rush, singer Koko Taylor, and many, many others.
Encounters with the Archdruid , by John McPhee (Noonday, $8.95). John McPhee has said that he wrote this book as an exercise in structure. He depicts its central figure, conservationist David Brower (the archdruid of the title), as he interacts with three other men: a heedless developer, an environmentally sensitive one and the head of the dam-building U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The result is a piece of virtuoso reporting -- as well as, in the views of some critics, a more satisfying portrait of Brower than the one in his own, recent autobiography.
Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future , by Murray Bookchin (South End Press, 116 St. Botolph St., Boston, Mass. 02115; $10; hardcover $25). Murray Bookchin believes there is no easy solution to the global ecological crisis because "a capitalistic society based on competition and growth for its own sake must ultimately devour the natural world." What is called for, instead, is a new way of looking at our relationship to the Earth and nature. Ultimately, Bookchin says, it would mean a society that it is "based on nonhierarchical relationships, decentralized democratic communities, and eco-technologies like solar power, organic agriculture, and humanly scaled industries."
The Portable Malcolm Cowley , edited by Donald L. Faulkner (Penguin, $9.95). It is fitting that the great American critic Malcolm Cowley, who died last year at 90, should have a Portable of his own. After all, it was he who resuscitated the career of William Faulkner (no relation to the editor of this book) with his editorship of and masterly introduction to The Portable Faulkner in the mid-1940s. Even though Portables are not quite what they used to be (you could no more slip this volume into a coat pocket than a loaf of bread), Cowley's contains his views on Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Richard Wright -- in short, just about everybody who was making a literary splash in the first half of this century -- plus selections from his correspondence with such friends as Kenneth Burke and John Cheever.
The Road to Botany Bay: An Exploration of Landscape and History , by Paul Carter (University of Chicago Press, $16.95). Eschewing "roots" for "routes," Paul Carter sets out bravely to reinvent Australian history. The story of colonization, Carter argues in this study, is not linear, a matter of dates and discoveries, but spatial, a matter of naming and mapping unknown "spaces" in such a way as to turn them into "places." In his pursuit not of chronological origins but of intentions, Carter brings to bear insights from literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, even art criticism.
Sad Fashions , by Richard Peabody (Gut Punch Press, P.O. Box 105, Cabin John, Md. 20818; $7.95). Best known as editor of Gargoyle, for 14 years Washington's premier literary magazine, Richard Peabody is also a poet and writer of fiction. This collection of poems is dedicated to "everyone who botched their first kiss, flunked their driver's test, missed the prom . . ." Many of the poems are about missed chances and the tone is elegiac. But there is the occasional burst of humor as in "The Fourth Stooge," where the narrator tells us that he always wanted to be on television and hit someone with a pie, but "I gave up/ television and became a poet instead." Two other collections of Peabody's poems, I'm In Love With the Morton Salt Girl and Echt & Ersatz, are available in one volume from Paycock Press (5025 Bradley Blvd., No. 1, Chevy Chase, Md. 20815; $6).