Servants of the Map, by Andrea Barrett (Norton, $13.95). Scientists and discoverers explore inner and outer worlds in these stories by the author of Ship Fever and The Voyage of the Narwhal. In the title piece, Max Vigne, a young surveyor, travels into the Himalayas in the 1860s as part of Britain's Grand Trigonometrical Survey of India. He carries with him a trunk of letters from his devoted wife, Clara, to whom he also seems to be devoted, although he does not tell her everything. He can't confess, for instance, that a new set of passions is taking root in him. "He ought to be content with the knowledge that the work he does each day is solid, practical, strong; these maps will stand for years. . . . He dreams of a different kind of map, in shades of misty green. Where the heads of the Survey see the boundaries of states and tribes . . . he sees plants, each kind in a range bounded by soil and rainfall and altitude and temperature. . . . Why do rhododendrons grow in Sikkim and not here? He might spend his life in the search for an answer."
Eva Trout, or Changing Scenes, by Elizabeth Bowen (Anchor, $13). What happens when a hotheaded young heiress decides to sell her Jaguar for some ready cash and vanish, leaving her guardians in the dark as to her whereabouts? This is the setup for the last book by Irish novelist of manners Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973 -- this book came out in 1968). Twenty-four-year-old Eva Trout, a birthday away from coming into her inheritance, has fled the care of Iseult, the former teacher with whom she lives. Here's Iseult's reaction: She "felt stirrings of that original vivisectional interest which had drawn her to her uncouth pupil. In the glow of knowing herself fallen in hate with (for what else was this?), she relived the year at the school, and the years after, during which this organism had so much loved her. She regretted nothing."
Paris Stories, by Mavis Gallant (New York Review Books, $14.95). "Among writers [Gallant] is a shared and loved and daunting secret," writes Michael Ondaatje in his introduction to this collection of stories by the Canadian-born Gallant (1922 -- ), who has made Paris her base for more than half a century. Written in her adopted hometown, these stories range over a Europe that Ondaatje describes as "a place of 'shipwrecks' . . . All her characters are seemingly far from home. They belong, to be honest, nowhere." "In Transit" follows a couple, married eight days, on their wedding trip; the husband, divorced from his first wife, can't get comfortable with his new one: "Attending to her, he made mistakes. In Helsinki he had gone with her to buy clothes. Under racks of dresses he saw her legs and bare feet. She came out, smiling, holding in front of herself a bright dress covered with suns. 'You can't wear it in Paris,' he said, and he saw her face darken, as if he had darkened some idea she'd had of what she might be."
A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis, by David M. Friedman (Penguin, $15). A romp through the long, exuberant and sometimes checkered career of what journalist David Friedman calls, in one chapter title, "the demon rod," from Heloise and Abelard to Freud to Lewinsky and beyond.
Motherhood Lost: A Feminist Account of Pregnancy Loss in America, by Linda L. Layne (Routledge, $24.95). "Pregnancy losses are very common," writes Linda Layne. "The most frequently cited figure is 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies. . . . Despite their frequency, these events are taboo in our society." Those who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy can testify how hard it is to talk about. A professor of anthropology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Layne suffered several miscarriages in her own quest to have a family. (She has two sons, one adopted and one born to her.) With that experience tempering Layne's academic approach, Motherhood Lost draws on the stories of women who belong to pregnancy-loss support groups, and aims to expand "the repertoire of options for understanding and dealing with such misfortunes."
Boys and Girls Forever: Children's Classics from Cinderella to Harry Potter, by Alison Lurie (Penguin, $15). A noted novelist and critic of children's literature, Alison Lurie has written on Hans Christian Andersen, L. Frank Baum, Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling and many others, most often for the New York Review of Books. This collection of essays on those and other writers presents the idea that "the most gifted authors of books for children . . . in some essential way [are] children themselves. . . . Today, Laurent De Brunhoff, who has continued his father's Babar series for many years and is now over seventy, still climbs trees with youthful skill and delight." They may also prefer the company of animals, which helps explain why so many children's books feature animal protagonists. Lurie reports that T.H. White, author of The Sword and the Stone, "lived alone with his hawks and his hounds, and the death of his Irish setter, Brownie, left him utterly desolate."
Bad Blood: A Memoir, by Lorna Sage (Harper Perennial, $13.95). With a first chapter titled "The Old Devil and His Wife," Lorna Sage makes it clear from the beginning that this memoir of growing up on the Welsh border with her grandparents in the 1940s and '50s isn't going to be a sunny stroll down memory lane. Grandpa was a vicar, prone to boozing and womanizing and cussing, galled by his provincial posting; Grandma "thought men and women belonged to different races and any getting together was worse than folly. The 'old devil,' my grandfather, had talked her into marriage and the agony of bearing two children, and he should never be forgiven for it. . . . Grandma's idea of expressing affection to small children was to smack her lips and say, 'You're so sweet, I'm going to eat you all up!' . . . . She liked to pinch, too, and she sometimes spat with hatred when she ran out of words." Sage survived her time with this delightful pair, weathered pregnancy at 17 and went on to become an eminent literary critic as well as a memoirist.
Misconceptions: Truth, Lies, and the Unexpected on the Journey to Motherhood, by Naomi Wolf (Anchor, $14). The author of The Beauty Myth returns with a personally charged analysis of "the hidden truths behind giving birth in America today. . . .to show how the experience of becoming a mother, as miraculous and fulfilling as it is, is also undersupported, sentimentalized, and even manipulated at women's expense."
-- Jennifer Howard