Silk ($15.00; Oct. 15; 96 pp.; 1-86046-510-X): A fine novella, set in 19th-century France and the Orient, by a celebrated Italian musicologist and writer. It's the story of silk merchant HervÇ Joncour's several dangerous journeys to and from Japan (during a trade embargo), his enchantment by the reserved and beautiful concubine of the businessman he deals with, and the pattern of renunciation and regret that thereafter gathers together several destinies. Not the slightest hint of affection mars this almost perfect little story, which, while scarcely raising its voice above a whisper, builds to a wrenching climax and denouement. Masterly.