POODLE SPRINGS; by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker; Berkley; $4.95.
When Raymond Chandler died in 1959, he left the first four chapters of this unfinished Philip Marlowe novel - which Robert Parker uses as a sort of prologue to his own novel, a so-so pastiche that has little to do with Chandler's style or characters.Although he tucks in references to Los Angeles streets like favors at a child's birthday party, Parker fails to convey any real sense of place - or time. It is never clear whether this tale of blackmail, murder and bigamy among the very rich is supposed to be unfolding in 1959 or 1989.
More significantly, Parker lacks Chandler's flair for the memorable turn of phrase. The result is a feeble exercise in literary grave-robbing, about on a par with the various attempts to "continue" the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
The evil that men do may live after them, but "Poodle Springs" suggests that the good writing is oft interred with their bones.TRAVELS WITH ALICE; by Calvin Trillin; Avon; $7.95.
In these warmly funny recollections of places visited and meals eaten, Calvin Trillin contrasts European attitudes regarding travel with the American predilection for speed ("Americans drive across the country as if someone's chasing them").
But Trillin prefers good food - especially good French and Italian food - to scenic vistas, and he goes to great lengths to find it. He seems to regard Provence, Sicily, Rome and various Caribbean islands as large-scale cafeterias, rather than geographic entities, and his contagious enthusiasm for the pleasures of fine olive oil, herbs, crusty bread, chevre, gelati, etc., make "Travels" a book to read with a snack at hand.NAVAHO FOLK TALES; by Franc Johnson Newcomb; University of New Mexico Press; $10.95, illustrated.
Originally collected by the author for her children, these gentle tales will please adult readers as well. The 17 connected stories explain how the Dine ("The People," as the Navaho call themselves) came to the present or Fifth World and learned the arts of living here. (Although the stories form a creation myth, they contain no references to a creator.)
The imagery is often quite beautiful, especially in the account of how First Woman fashioned the sun and moon out of discs of quartz decorated with turquoise, coral and feathers. She made the stars from leftover chips of stone to write "the laws that are to govern mankind for all time . . . if they are written in the stars they can be read and remembered forever."
In addition to the insights they offer into a noble and pacific culture, these tales provide ideal material for parents to read aloud to their children.THREE DAYS WITH JOYCE, by Gisele Freund; Persea Books; $11.95).
These exceptional photographs were taken in Paris in 1938 and 1939, near the end of James Joyce's life. Two extraordinary series of images, one of the author revisiting Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier at the celebrated Shakespeare and Company bookstore, the other with his beloved grandson at the home of his son, Giorgio, on the rue Scheffer, seem to summarize the writer's life.
Despite his popular image as a distracted, untidy man, Joyce appears elegant, even dandified, in silk bow ties, patterned socks and rings. But he also looks frail, weary and otherworldly: The later pictures clearly show a man approaching death. Gisele Freund's studies form a revealing portrait of this elusive genius.