Books: Eastern Diary

FOREVER CHINA — Robert Payne —Dodd, Mead ($3.50).

Journalists' books about China are in evitable. A poet's book is rare and un expected. Robert Payne, a versatile, thirtyish Englishman who is a professor of literature, a lecturer in naval architecture, a playwright and also a journalist, has done the unexpected book. The result is exciting and evocative.

"The greatness of this country," Payne observes, "is terrifying. [China is a nation] swiftly changing and terribly virile . . . where the metal is molten and the people are searching for new gods, or the old...