This week, a Catcher in the Rye for Internet youth, the new Zelda Fitzgerald novel, and a must-have Charles Simic collection. Plus: something is below the ice in Antarctica.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler (St. Martin’s) - The famous couple have a whirlwind courtship in Montgomery, Ala., where Scott was briefly stationed at the end of WWI, and Zelda was the talk of the town. Then Fowler unfolds the next 20 years: the couple’s New York celebrity after This Side of Paradise; the years in Paris with the other “Lost Generation” expats; and their return to the U.S. to treat Zelda’s schizophrenia.
Submergence by J.M. Ledgard (Coffee House) - Profoundly readable and unfailingly interesting, this beautifully written novel tells two stories in parallel. James More, a British spy posing as a water engineer, is taken captive by jihadists in Somalia; the counterpoint to this viscerally horrific tale is his love affair with Danielle Flinders, a “biomathematician” working in the field of oceanography.
A Map of Tulsa by Benjamin Lytal (Penguin) - If The Catcher in the Rye has lost its raw clout for recent generations of Internet-suckled American youth, here is a coming-of-age novel to replace it. Instead of running away, the pretentious narrator of this updated version of Salinger’s bildungsroman travels headlong back home to claim the town where he came of age.
New and Selected Poems 1962-2012 by Charles Simic (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) – This is an essential book tracing one of America’s preeminent poets, spanning his entire career.
Frozen Solid by James M. Tabor (Ballantine) – In this page-turner, set toward the end of the Antarctic summer, Hallie Leland flies in to a South Pole research station, where she’s to dive beneath the ice to recover an extremophile—a life-form that exists under conditions inimical to most life. The extremophile, code-named Vishnu, can metabolize carbon dioxide and thus potentially stop climate change.
Opportunity, Montana: Big Copper, Bad Water, and the Burial of an American Landscape by Brad Tyer (Beacon) - Memoir, history, and the unequal application of economic justice come together in Tyer’s deeply felt and sharply penned nonfiction debut. Tyer’s reportage spotlights the process by which the tiny Montana town Opportunity became the dumping ground for millions of tons of toxic copper mining waste. The waste was uncovered as the result of a dam removal that helped beautify Missoula.
Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) - Set in London, this energetic, thoughtful first in a new series introduces Charles Boxer, a former cop turned private security professional specializing in kidnapping. When 25-year-old Alyshia D’Cruz, the daughter of a self-made Indian billionaire, is kidnapped after an evening out with her co-workers, Boxer is charged with getting Alyshia back alive.
Black Helicopters by Blythe Woolston (Candlewick) - This brief but razor-sharp YA novel from Woolston is as unpredictable as the bomb strapped to the chest of the girl at its center, 15-year-old Valkyrie White. Valkyrie makes every word count in her narration, which makes sense coming from a girl who grew up with such rules as “Never waste an opportunity to conserve resources.”