Queen of Hearts, Dan McCall (Holt, Rinehart...

Queen of Hearts, Dan McCall (Holt, Rinehart & Winston). Novel explores the anxiety, guilt and creature comforts of middle-aged love.

The Awakening Twenties: A Memoir History of a Literary Period, Gorham Munson (Louisiana State University). An intimate of such literary figures as Hart Crane and Waldo Frank, Munson profiles the period's writers "in all their vitality . . . reminding us of the youth and vigor of those we often think of as old and hoary."

Lady Living Alone, Norah Lofts (Doubleday). More than a thriller, this is the story of Penelope Shadow, a "sweet and funny little thing" whose secret sin--writing--suddenly catapults her into success, money and fame.

The Border, Elaine Feinstein (St. Martin's-Marek). An Austrian poet and his wife, a particle physicist, struggle to reach a clearer perspective on their lives and personal motives.

Diaspora: An Inquiry Into the Contemporary Jewish World, Howard M. Sachar (Harper & Row). Detailed, complex story about assimilation, Jewish history and what it means to live in the Jewish "third world."

The Eudaemonic Pie, Thomas A. Bass (Houghton Mifflin). Bass recounts how he and a group of UC Santa Cruz graduate students worked obsessively to find a computer theory behind professional gambling, stopping only for gourmet Szechuan meals and all-night costume parties.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, Cormac McCarthy (Random House). "An allegory on the nature of evil," the book traces the pilgrimage of renegade U.S. troops determined to annex part of Mexico. They travel across "an apocalyptic landscape, a blasted purgatorial heath, a hellish waste of thorns and buzzards."

Waiting: The Whites of South Africa, Vincent Crapanzano (Random House). Critical of the South African government as well as the demonstrating students, the author explores the reasons behind the country's reluctance to change.

Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (Simon & Schuster). Celebrates the prevailing spirit of ordinary people in America's 19th-Century West.

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