Brighten the Corner Where You Are , by Fred Chappell (St. Martin's, $8.95). This warm, enchanting book opens with the narrator's story of how his father stole the moon, one night when "it was larger and closer than the barn . . . and once it scraped my head as I went underneath and knocked off my blue wool cap." Father is Joe Robert Kirkman, a high school teacher, prankster and philosopher -- in the course of the novel, he will encounter the dreaded devil-possum, resign over a misunderstanding and engage in a Socratic dialogue with a goat atop the high school building. St. Martin's has also issued The Fred Chappell Reader ($13.95), a collection of short stories, poetry and excerpts from Chappell's novels.
Day of Reckoning , by John Katzenbach (Ballantine, $5.95). If American reality has become stranger than fiction -- a switch that many observers date from the assassination of President Kennedy -- the best remedy for novelists may be to base their stories on the news. Here one of the leading practitioners of the crime novel works a variation on the Patty Hearst imbroglio. The plot centers on a couple who escaped jail and turned respectable while their revolutionary colleague, Tanya, simmered in jail. Newly released from prison, Tanya decides to exact revenge by attacking her colleagues at their most vulnerable point, their young son.
I Hear Voices , by Paul Ableman (McPherson & Co., $10; cloth, $18). This semi-legendary novel, first brought out by Olympia Press in Paris some 30 years ago, has till now never been published in the United States, but this handsome McPherson edition -- reset, with authorial corrections -- has almost made the wait worthwhile. Ableman's book relates in lyrical, dreamy and disorienting language the mental adventures of a schizophrenic, confined largely to his bed. Much of the book is exceptionally funny, in its dialogue, eccentric characters (Miss Carpet, the Commissioner) and dead-pan style.
The Best of Photojournalism/15: Newspaper and Magazine Pictures of the Year , presented by the National Press Photographers Association and the University of Missouri School of Journalism (Running Press, 125 South 22nd St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19103; $16.95). It was the best of times; it was the worst of times -- here is the record of the year 1989 as recorded on film by the nation's top photojournalists. The upheaval in Eastern Europe, the tumbling down of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square, Hurricane Hugo, the San Francisco Earthquake, an oil spill in Alaska, these were the big news events, but the images captured here also record the humorous, the heroic and the ugly.
The First Socialist Society: A History of the Soviet Union From Within , by Geoffrey Hosking (Harvard, $14.95). The author, professor of Russian history at the University of London, is one of the most incisive and readable Western historians of the Soviet experiment. A particular strength is his persuasive showing of how, more often than is commonly realized in the West, the Russian people have resisted repression and deprivation. But, as always, it is the continuities in Russian history that strike the reader. This event sounds like something that might have taken place in the reign of Ivan the Terrible: In July 1953, "at a combined meeting of the party Presidium, the Council of Ministers and some of the principal generals . . . Beria was arrested and accused of 'anti-party and anti-state activities.' According to Khrushchev, he was shot on the spot."
The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews , by Eudora Welty (Vintage, $8.95). Some of Eudora Welty's enthusiasms in these pieces could be anticipated by anyone familiar with her work: for William Faulkner, her fellow Mississippian; for E.M. Forster, whose celebration of family ties (in his biography of his aunt, Marianne Thornton) coincides with some of Welty's preoccupations; for Katherine Anne Porter, whose talent, like Welty's, seems to express itself more fully in the short story and novella than the full-length novel. But it comes as a mild surprise that Welty is a fan of mysteries, especially those of Ross Macdonald (to whom, under his real name of Kenneth Millar, the book is dedicated), and that she sings the praises of both the great Whites, E.B. and Patrick.
A Voice from the Attic: Essays on the Art of Reading , by Robertson Davies (Penguin, $9.95). Not literary criticism, these essays are appreciations, enthusiasms, the adventures of Canada's distinguished man of letters among literary masterpieces and forgotten penny dreadfuls. Slightly revised from its 1960 original, the book is immensely entertaining, though occasionally Davies's tone can verge on the faux-naif. But the author of Fifth Business and What's Bred in the Bone is, as his admirers know, widely read in everything from 19th-century melodrama, Edwardian ghost stories and Stephen Leacock to Jung, Victorian erotica and all sorts of modern fiction. Besides touching on all these, Davies here offers spirited defenses of book collecting and of reading for the sheer fun of it.
The Canada Goose , by Kit Howard Breen (Voyageur Press, $14.95). With their stately gait and white collars atop black necks, adult Canada geese have a sacerdotal bearing; their young, on the other hand, are bundles of green-gold fuzz. Photographer-writer Kit Breen captures the birds in all phases and seasons in this handsome book, much of which was shot on Maryland's Eastern Shore. The goslings grow up fast, usually taking their first swim a scant four hours after hatching -- but not, it would seem, without a certain reluctance: There is a touching photo of a young bird at water's edge whose half-opened eyes and ruffled feathers suggest a wish for a little more time.
Honorable Justice: The Life of Oliver Wendell Holmes , by Sheldon Novick (Laurel, $12.95). Among his other distinctions, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes may have been the best prose stylist ever to sit on the High Court. Whether or not one agrees with his decision upholding the sterilization of a woman with a family history of feeblemindedness, there is no gainsaying that he justified it pithily: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." And his dissent in the Abrams case, with its paean to free speech -- "the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market," etc. -- ranks with the most stirring of all American governmental writings. This is the first life of the justice in decades -- and the most complete of them all.