Pick of the paperbacks

Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, by Joseph Lash. New York: Dell. 861 pp. $6.95. This empathetic and sensitive book celebrates two remarkable lives while portraying Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy as real women who overcame both physical limitation and social indifference. Beginning with Sullivan's early struggles and moving on to Keller's, biographer Lash masterfully portrays the details of the intertwined lives of teacher and pupil. He reveals the ''miracle'' of deaf-mute Keller's learning to speak and write, eventually to attend college, and finally to become known internationally as an advocate of such libertarian causes as abolition of capital punishment and child labor. The volume makes an outstanding contribution to feminist studies.

American Dreams Lost and Found, by Studs Terkel. New York: Bantam Books. 515 pp. $3.50.

With the art that conceals art, Chicago radio personality and author Terkel records his conversations with 100 Americans - rich and poor, conservative and liberal, urban and rural, majority and minority, young and old, famous and unknown - who speak with both harshness and hope about their country. Recurring subjects: education, work, justice, competition, caring for one another, and that elusive ideal called the American dream.

Janet Flanner's World: Uncollected Writings 1932-1975. New York: Harvest/HBJ. 368 pp. $7.95.

Writing from Paris for the New Yorker magazine from 1925-75, Janet Flanner focused on heroism, hope, and humor wherever she found them. Her constant concern for what was right was matched by her compassion, and the result is a moral vision untainted by preachiness. These first-person reports, including profiles of Bette Davis, Thomas Mann, and Adolf Hitler, as well as Flanner's vivid descriptions of the Nuremberg trials, and her accounts of her friendships with Hemingway, Pound, e.e. cummings, Stein, and Toklas make for exciting and entertaining reading.

World's End and Other Stories, by Paul Theroux. New York: Pocket Books/Washington Square Press. 224 pp. $3.50.; The stories in this enjoyable fiction collection are like postcards received from a well-traveled and literate friend, who takes as much pleasure in relating odd incidents as in seeking out the world's odd corners. Storyteller Theroux gives us snatches of overheard conversation, anecdotes, small intrigues, and fables. Although the subjects are rather commonplace, they're related with humor and in a delightful prose style that speaks directly to the reader's own experience.

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