cover image The Standard Grand

The Standard Grand

Jay Baron Nicorvo. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-10894-4

An Army trucker skips her third deployment to live in a halfway house for homeless veterans in this promising debut novel. After leaving her deadbeat civilian husband, specialist Antebellum Smith drives from the Ozarks to New York City, where, after several directionless weeks, she eventually takes up residence at “the Standard,” a sprawling upstate resort that hosts disadvantaged former military. Owned by Milton, a widowed Vietnam vet, the Standard’s location is quickly revealed to be coveted by IRJ Inc., a multinational corporation intent on transforming the property into a golf course. Alternating perspectives in each section, the symphonic novel dramatizes the lives of both the Standard’s residents and the employees of IRJ, creating an incisive parable for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Though the novel stalls a bit in the middle, its vibrant style and twisting plot—at one point a character is mauled by a cougar—make for an appropriately complex snapshot of America’s relationship with the men and women who defend it. (Apr.)