Ordinary Money , by Louis B. Jones (Penguin, $7.95). The ordinary money of the title is a stash of $20 bills -- 1 million of them to be exact -- that may, or may not, be counterfeit. They are so perfectly made, it is impossible to tell. The money comes to Randy Potts, a carpenter, from a mysterious man who hires him. Potts, in turn, leaves a crate of money with a friend, Wayne Paschke. While Paschke refuses to spend the money, Potts does, buying everything from a new car to a new home. Then the government traces the money back to Potts and all of a sudden the two men are faced with the prospect of being charged with counterfeiting.
Dirty Work, by Larry Brown (Vintage Contemporaries, $9.95). In this first novel about the aftermath of war, two Vietnam veterans lie in beds next to each other in the hospital. One, Walter James, has had his face destroyed. The other, Braden Chaney, lost his arms and legs in the war. One is black, the other white, but both are from Mississippi. Both speak in the novel as they talk about what they wanted from life, and now can never have, remembering what it was like when they were whole.
A Vocation and a Voice, by Kate Chopin (Penguin, $6.95). Once lionized as "the most brilliant, distinguished, and interesting woman that has ever graced St. Louis," turn-of-the-century novelist and short-story writer Kate Chopin was all but forgotten there (and everywhere else) until her work was rediscovered in the 1960s. Puritanism was the impulse behind her neglect: The Awakening, Chopin's novel of adultery and suicide, so shocked the Comstock crowd that she was ostracized socially and silenced professionally -- her publisher cancelled this short-story collection in the aftermath of The Awakening imbroglio. Editor Emily Toth, author of a recent biography of Chopin, calls these stories Chopin's "most modern achievements." NONFICTION
Love Was Cheap and Life Was High: Postcards from Paperback Cover Art of the '40s and '50s, edited by Barry Jay Kaplan (Collier, $8.95). Here, in all their tawdry glory, are 31 reproductions of paperback book covers from the 1940s and '50s. Most of the covers pictured, like the one for Musk, Hashish and Blood, with its sultry, bosomy harem girl and knife-wielding sheik, are for the kinds of books that once graced revolving drugstore racks. They're bus station books, the kind soldiers and sailors bought for a little light reading on those long bus rides home. But a few are covers for more familiar works of American literature -- a gritty city street for Thomas Wolfe's Only the Dead Know Brooklyn, a sultry beauty on a bar stool being picked up by a tuxedo-clad gentleman for John O'Hara's Butterfield 8, a Marilyn Monroe-like Lorelei Lee surrounded by numerous admirers for Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Slavery: History and Historians, by Peter J. Parish (HarperCollins, $8.95). This look at issues in the interpretation of American slavery considers the debates among historians, summarizing their positions and identifying the primary areas of controversy. In the process, British historian Peter J. Parish discusses the lives of the slaves, the peculiar and sometimes paradoxical relationship between master and slave, and the evolution of slavery. Among the many works he covers are American Negro Slavery, by Ulrich B. Phillips -- published in 1918, it was "the first major scholarly history of Southern slavery"; The Peculiar Institution, by Kenneth M. Stampp, a " 'neo-abolitionist' interpretation of slavery"; Roll, Jordan, Roll, by Eugene Genovese, a comprehensive portrait of slave life; and the two volumes of Time on the Cross, by Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, which used computers and statistics to buttress its thesis that slavery was economically profitable and less cruel than previously thought.
Broadway Anecdotes, by Peter Hay (Oxford, $8.95). This treasury of anecdotes is not strictly about Broadway. For one thing, it begins with a chapter called "In the Land of the Puritans," that provides a brief "history" of theater in America. Among the bits of information contained there is the fact that the first professional theater company in American began in 1752 in Virginia. Elsewhere, of course, Peter Hay is less serious, as when he recounts Walter Winchell's explanation of why he always praised the first show he saw each season: "Who am I to stone the first cast?"
Not by Fact Alone: Essays on the Writing and Reading of History, by John Clive (Houghton Mifflin, $10.95). The late John Clive taught history at Harvard for more than 30 years. Though his output was small, it was of high quality; his masterpiece was a biography of the early life of the 19th-century British historian, Thomas Babington Macaulay. It might be said that Clive's real subject was history and literature, for he ceaselessly urged students to read the masters of historical writing -- Gibbon, Burckhardt, Henry Adams, Carlyle, G.M. Young, to name a few. This collection of essays won the 1990 National Book Critics Circle Award and begins, appropriately enough, with the sentence, "One can learn from the great historians: first of all, about the nature of genius."
Famous Long Ago: My Life and Hard Times with Liberation News Service, at Total Loss Farm and on the Dharma Trail, by Ray Mungo (Citadel, $14.95). This book has more title-power than an 18th-century travelogue because it is an omnibus: three books in one, all by a flower child who chronicled the far-out stuff as it was happening. Mungo reminds us of the great urge to communicate alternate truths that gripped the land: He and pals made plans for a "Grand Tour of the nation . . . complete with rock band, hearse, mimeo machine, and thousands of copies of underground newspapers." The book leads off the second series of Citadel Press's Underground line -- classic countercultural reprints (such as Famous Long Ago) and some original works, collectively billed as "challenging the consensus." Among other titles are Ed Sanders's Tales of Beatnik Glory ($12.95), a collection of interwoven short stories set in Greenwich Village, and Michael Lydon's Rock Folk: Portraits from the Rock 'n' Roll Pantheon ($9.95).