Clancy and Tyler: Novels due from two Maryland authors

BOOKS & AUTHORS

July 28, 1991|By James H. Bready

Make way for Maryland on the fiction best-seller lists. In the next few weeks, each of our end-of-the-century lighthouses, Tom Clancy and Anne Tyler, will be out with a new novel. "The Sum of All Fears" and "Saint Maybe" -- each comes loudly flacked, highly recommended.

Mr. Clancy is first on the calendar; his "novel of unrelenting suspense" and present-day Middle Eastern nuclear terrorists is a bid for best-selling novel of the 1990s, the honor his "Clear and Present Danger" won for the 1980s. Ms. Tyler, in this first novel since her Pulitzer Prize, evokes the 1960s for a story of household anguish and redemption; once again, her setting is Baltimore.

Stark, the contrasts here: one author a country resident, the other a city; here a very public persona, there a very private; their respective themes military technology and domestic interaction.

Mr. Clancy's words seem to be ever faster put together, or at least more numerous; Ms. Tyler's go ever deeper. For a harmonious autumn dinner party, better not mix people who will be part-way through these two books.

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Score one for the ordinary book buyer: "Colonial and Historic Homes of Maryland," the $200 boxed set aimed at private subscribers on publication in 1939, is now out in reprint from Johns Hopkins University Press, paperback and smaller, for $15.95. The 100 Don Swann etchings still are clear and distinct; the house-by-house, facing-page text is by Don Swann Jr. In the interim, 54 of these mansions and manor houses have been accepted for the National Register of Historic Places.

Bibliophilic note: Reprinting F. Scott Fitzgerald's foreword, 1991 has restrained itself from correcting his spelling.

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Garland Publishing (136 Madison Ave., New York 10016) has completed its facsimile publication of the F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts in Princeton University Library. Matthew J. Bruccoli was general editor, Alan Margolies associate editor. The set, in 18 volumes, costs $3,300.

Fitzgerald was unusually careful about saving MSS., revisions and corrected galleys; his process of composition can be closely followed. At $90, "The Great Gatsby" costs least. "Tender Is the Night," which Fitzgerald finished while living here, is the centerpiece: seven volumes, costing $1,490.

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Bennard B. Perlman, biographer of the collective, eight-artist Ashcan School, has refined his focus to a single subject: their leader. "Robert Henri: His Life and Art" (Dover; paperbound, 79 illustrations, 21 of them in color; $14.95) is the happy meeting place of a scholar's labor and a fellow-painter's and fellow-teacher's understanding. Since 1962, the place to read up on Henri has been "Painters of the Ashcan School," by Mr. Perlman. Now, that book suffices only for Sloan, Glackens, Luks, Davies, Lawson, Shinn and Prendergast.

Henri (1865-1929), who was from Cincinnati, Philadelphia, New York and Europe, fought academicism (the ancient, the formal, the genteel) and won. Go look at life as it currently and really is, and express what you yourself see, Henri said in class, in print and in his own fluent, colorful works. He then was overtaken by Picasso, Braque, Duchamps and the rest; by now you have to tell people how he pronounced his name (Hen-rye). But "the story of Robert Henri is the story of the coming of age of American art," Mr. Perlman writes.

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"Summer Flowers, Summer Books" -- in its dozen Cathedral Street display windows, Pratt's Central Library points toward this bliss with wonderful effectiveness. Glider, here I come!

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