Katrina: After The Flood by Gary Rivlin. (Simon & Schuster) Now, 11 years after the hurricane hit, New Orleans is still recovering, from both the storm’s damage and the deeply flawed response to it. Rivlin, a former New York Times reporter who covered the disaster’s aftermath, offers a guide to the decisions that shaped the city’s post-Katrina experience, including profound failings by the Bush administration and local officials’ dysfunctional planning.
Purity by Jonathan Franzen. (Picador) Pip, the heroine of Franzen’s story, has a mountain of student debt, a strained relationship with her unbalanced mother and no clue of her father’s identity. These confusions swirl as she is drawn into a chaotic mix of money, corruption, power and even murder, taking her from anarchist circles in Oakland to East Germany and, finally, Bolivia. The Times’ reviewer, Colm Toibin, called the book “a novel of plenitude and panorama.”
The Reason For Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, And How They Change Our Lives by Stephen Buchmann. (Scribner) Flowering plants play a number of starring roles in this account: as sources of nourishment and decoration; as symbols of sympathy and celebration; and even as artistic muses. Buchmann has spent his career studying how animals interact with flora; now, he reflects on the plants’ potent influence on human life.
Muse by Jonathan Galassi. (Vintage) Paul is poised to become the next head of a storied New York publishing house in a world where, to publishers, authors are akin to paintings or real estate – “living, breathing collectibles.” One prized writer, the elusive poet Ida Perkins, has consistently evaded his company’s reach, and Paul sets off to find her. Galassi, the longtime publisher of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, draws on firsthand experience in his debut novel.
The Road Not Taken: Finding America In The Poem Everyone Loves And Almost Everyone Gets Wrong by David Orr. (Penguin, $16.) Robert Frost’s 1915 poem may well be the most popular, if consistently misunderstood, American literary work. In this exegesis, Orr, poetry columnist for The New York Times Book Review, suggests that Frost draws on a particularly American ambivalence about choice.
Local Girls by Caroline Zancan. (Riverhead) A celebrity passing through their moribund Florida town brings the tensions among three childhood friends to the fore, as their dynamic unravels in an Orlando dive bar. Zancan’s novel “illuminates the joys and peculiar intimacies of female friendship by showing us one close to its end,” Eliza Kennedy wrote in The Times.
Move: How To Rebuild And Reinvent America’s Infrastructure by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. (Norton) Stalled commutes are a common gripe across the country, sidelining economic development – and the poor state of transit is wholly unnecessary, Kanter argues here. Stronger political leadership could vastly improve transportation. As she puts it: “Infrastructure has no ideology.”
New York Times