The Postman, David Brin (Bantam) "is set in a post-Holocaust North America in the early 21st Century." The central character begins a tentative mail service, "and soon almost believes his own lies, as he majestically gives orders on the authority of his self-appointed rank as postal inspector. . . . The world Brin draws is terrifying; the metaphor of the postman and his life is thought-provoking" (Ronald Florence).
Selected Poems, John Ashbery (Elisabeth Sifton/Viking). "The 138 pieces that Ashbery has chosen for his 'selected poems' demonstrate both the difficulty and the possibilities of his work. . . . His theme . . . is the effort to discover patterns of order and grace in the material and emotional actuality of the contemporary world" (Richard Eder).
The Harvard Book of Contemporary American Poetry, Helen Vendler, editor (Belknap/Harvard). Though "finding and naming a new 'galaxy' of poets is a thankless task and troubled astronomy, Vendler manages not to sound defensive or too portentous in her introduction, perhaps a first in the history of anthologies. She is at her best when discussing the history of formal changes within poems themselves" (Carol Muske).
American Samurai: Captain L.L. Janes & Japan, F. G. Notehelfer (Princeton University). "Leroy Lansing Janes, although not formally a missionary, became the most influential advocate of Protestant Christianity in Japan in the late 19th Century. . . . (F. G. Notehelfer) focuses on the central paradox of Janes' career: How could a man who repeatedly failed in the United States become such a success across the Pacific. . . ? (Notehelfer) shows how the Japanese transformed the captain into their kind of hero--a noble failure" (Roger Dingman).