Books: Mary, Mary HOW I GREW

by Mary McCarthy Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 278 pages; $16.95

If Author Mary McCarthy, 74, seems in the mood to celebrate herself, she has probably earned that indulgence. For some 50 years she has reigned as the irruptive dark lady of American letters, a ferocious critic of everything from theater and books to U.S. society and foreign policy; a novelist (The Group, The Groves of Academe) with a reputation for settling scores by turning enemies into thinly disguised fictions. Hence, perhaps, the hint of smugness in the title she has chosen for the first volume of her projected autobiography. How I Grew has nothing to do with its subject's physical stature.

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