April Publication

Contributions from such major figures as Borges, Cheever, Alice Munro and Ray Bradbury carry the day in In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians, assembled by former librarian Michael Cart (My Father's Scar). Borges's well-known "The Library of Babel" is the best of the bunch, with its thought-provoking musings on the possibilities of an "infinite" library. Cheever chips in with a noteworthy contribution in "The Trouble of Marcie Flint," a typical exploration of infidelity and the dark side of suburbia. A handful of the remaining stories are pedantic, underdeveloped or ill-conceived, but there's more than enough wheat among the chaff to make this an intriguing collection. (Overlook, $26.95 272p ISBN 1-58567-259-9)

March Publications

Gwendoline Y. Fortune's Growing up Nigger Rich is appealing, but considerably less provocative than its title suggests. Black professor Gayla Turner returns during a sabbatical to the small Southern town where she grew up, haunted by memories of racism. The subplot of her friend Louise's current involvement with a white man echoes a doomed interracial love affair in the town decades ago. Meanwhile, Gayla worries over her own tenuous relationship with her father, an aging doctor, and remains all but oblivious to her husband's philandering back home. While Fortune's understatement is effective at times, one hopes she will raise her voice next time out. 12-city author tour. (Pelican, $24 256p ISBN 1-56554-963-5)

The revised edition of Land of Enchanters, edited by Bernard Lewis and Stanley Burstein, is well defined by its subtitle: "Egyptian Short Stories from the Earliest Time to the Present Day." The preface is informative, as are the brief introductions to the stories, which describe the travails and triumphs of royals, heroes, spirits and monsters. Typical are "The Story of Dalal," in which a princess wedded to an ogre plans an escape, and "The Island of the Serpent," wherein a shipwrecked sailor is aided by a giant serpent "plated with gold." Sales of this slim volume could get a boost if it is assigned to high schoolers and undergraduates. (Markus Wiener, $38.95 196p ISBN 1-55876-266-3; paper $18.95 -267-1)

A young man wakes up in a strange house that is later uprooted and towed away in the title story of Mark E. Cull's collection One Way Donkey Ride; his subsequent search for another home gives new meaning to the expression "dream house." "Why I Hate Pets" explains why a gerbil might be God, and "The Red Notebook" finds a kindergarten girl taking the place of a teacher who was probably killed in an accident. These odd stories owe a surface debt to Kafka and Beckett, but for the most part the conceits are too thin and the strangeness too self-conscious to satisfy. (Asylum Arts [5847 Sawmill Rd., Paradise, Calif. 95969], $14 131p ISBN 1-878580-22-1)

The Bondage of Love is the latest of prolific and popular U.K. novelist Catherine Cookson's books to appear in America since her death in 1998. It concerns the havoc wrought on the lives of Bill and Fiona Bailey when they take in young Sammy Love, the son of their recently deceased family friend, Davey. Sammy's rough demeanor: is at odds with the middle-class sensibilities of the Baileys and their children. Cookson's fans will want to check out this title, which deals with subjects she explored extensively during her long career: domestic life and class differences. Large print. (Center Point [600 Brooks Rd., P.O. Box 1, Thorndike, Maine 04986-0001], $29.95 408p ISBN 1-58547-068-6)