By J.D. McClatchy (Knopf, $22.95)

The abbreviation "hazmat" brings ominous associations to mind, and that sort of apprehension is the governing mood of this fifth collection from McClatchy, who also edits the Yale Review. The poems here dwell most frequently on the body and the toxic forces in the world around us that prey on its vulnerabilities. The real hero of these poems, though, is the human spirit, which allows us to go on, death be damned. (F)

More Like Wrestling

By Danyel Smith (Crown, $23.95)

Paige and Pinch are two teenage sisters who live with their single mother until an altercation with her abusive boyfriend compels them to strike out on their own. They fall in with a clutch of amiable, often misfit friends, and for a while life seems idyllic. But violence recurs when the group's young men start dealing drugs -- and this forces the girls to make some more life-altering decisions. (F)

Should America Pay?

Ed. by Raymond A. Winbush (Amistad, $24.95)

Should African Americans be compensated for the grim social legacies of slavery? The debate over this question has been gaining momentum for more than a decade. This collection of essays brings together a diverse range of voices that have been central to the controversy. (NF)

The bestseller lists this week are culled from information submitted by Barnes & Noble, Borders and Olsson's based on sales from 02/17-02/23. The "Washington Is Also Reading" list is based on reports from Chapters, Reprint Book Shop and Vertigo. The Book World bestsellers hotline is 202-334-9000, category code 4175. (03/09/03)