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The Standard Grand
     

The Standard Grand

5.0 1
by Jay Baron Nicorvo
 

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"Nicorvo is a bracingly original writer and a joy to read." —Dennis Lehane

"A desperate masterpiece of a debut" that tells a huge-hearted American saga—of love, violence, war, conspiracy and the aftermath of them all." —Bonnie Jo Campbell

"Nicorvo’s muscular and energetic prose will stun readers with its poignancy, while

Overview

"Nicorvo is a bracingly original writer and a joy to read." —Dennis Lehane

"A desperate masterpiece of a debut" that tells a huge-hearted American saga—of love, violence, war, conspiracy and the aftermath of them all." —Bonnie Jo Campbell

"Nicorvo’s muscular and energetic prose will stun readers with its poignancy, while providing a punch to the solar plexus." —Booklist (Starred Review)

"A dash of Coetzee, a dram of Delillo, but mostly just the complicated compassion of Jay Nicorvo. The Standard Grand is a brutally beautiful novel." —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

"It seems possible that Nicorvo has ingested all the darkness of this life and now breathes fire.” Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

When an Army trucker goes AWOL before her third deployment, she ends up sleeping in Central Park. There, she meets a Vietnam vet and widower who inherited a tumbledown Borscht Belt resort. Converted into a halfway house for homeless veterans, the Standard—and its two thousand acres over the Marcellus Shale Formation—is coveted by a Houston-based multinational company. Toward what end, only a corporate executive knows.

With three violent acts at its center—a mauling, a shooting, a mysterious death decades in the past—and set largely in the Catskills, The Standard Grand spans an epic year in the lives of its diverse cast: a female veteran protagonist, a Mesoamerican lesbian landman, a mercenary security contractor keeping secrets and seeking answers, a conspiratorial gang of combat vets fighting to get peaceably by, and a cougar—along with appearances by Sammy Davis, Jr. and Senator Al Franken. All of the characters—soldiers, civilians—struggle to discover that what matters most is not that they’ve caused no harm, but how they make amends for the harm they’ve caused.

Jay Baron Nicorvo's The Standard Grand confronts a glaring cultural omission: the absence of women in our war stories. Like the best of its characters—who aspire more to goodness than greatness—this American novel hopes to darn a hole or two in the frayed national fabric.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
02/13/2017
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.)
From the Publisher

"[A] promising debut..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." —Publisher's Weekly

"In capturing the story of one deserter's search for love and redemption in an increasingly corporatized America, Nicorvo carves out something truly original." —Library Journal

"...a seamless blend of road-trip saga, love story, and critique of military contractors...the novel is thematically a straightforward tale about finding a home…but Nicorvo smartly renders the legal, corporate, and military forces that can stand in the way of so simple a goal. An ambitious novel that effectively braids corporate greed, outdoorsy grit, and human connection." —Kirkus Reviews

"Jay Baron Nicorvo is a bracingly original writer and a joy to read." —Dennis Lehane

"With sentences that flow like water down a mountain, Nicorvo’s muscular and energetic prose will stun readers with its poignancy, while providing a punch to the solar plexus. Whipsmart dialogue and keen emotional insight bring a ragtag, damaged, but lovable cast of characters to life...[An] exceptional first novel...The Standard Grand is an important and deeply human contribution to the national conversation." Booklist (Starred Review)

"I find few things more hopeful, in these darkening times, than a writer who can stare, unblinking, into the gut-wrenching destruction humans are wreaking upon each other and the earth, and still find shards of humor and humanity. A dash of Coetzee, a dram of Delillo, but mostly just the complicated compassion of Jay Nicorvo. The Standard Grand is a brutally beautiful novel." —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

"With profound compassion for his outrageously wonderful characters, Nicorvo brings readers to a defunct and decaying Catskills resort where a ghost platoon of vets are surviving among dangers both natural and human-made. Insanely funny, by turns tragic and, ultimately, redemptive, The Standard Grand is a desperate masterpiece of a debut: honest, epic, constantly surprising, and relentlessly entertaining.” —Bonnie Jo Campbell, finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and author of American Salvage and Once Upon A River

"The Standard Grand defies categorization, as a novel; its pleasures are those of both the family saga and the government-covert-secrets sort. The reader engages politically, emotionally, and morally, with a page-turning obsession to see what, exactly, could (despite what should) possibly happen next." —Antonya Nelson, author of Bound and Funny Once

"A rollicking howl into the void of American empire and excess, The Standard Grand raises hell with both style and charm." —Matt Gallagher, author of Youngblood

“Like O'Brien and Stone before him, Nicorvo's language lays bare the sinewy lusts, rattling hopes, and incommunicable fears that are our human machine.” —T. Geronimo Johnson, author of Hold It ’Til It Hurts and the national bestseller Welcome to Braggsville

"Nicorvo's canvas is large, multicultural, contemporary, and magnificent. He is a gifted writer and The Standard Grand is one great gift of a book." —Frederick Reiken, author of The Lost Legends Of New Jersey

" Nicorvo's The Standard Grand is, from its eye-catching title to the prophetic peal of its last word, a stunning debut performance by a young novelist of extravagant talent. This novel gives readers everything--a gob-smacking plot, language that sings like the angels, and characters as compelling as our best and worst friends and lovers." —Sterling Watson, author of Suitcase City

“This novel pops and sears. It picks you up and doesn't let you go until it's finished with its rollicking, fiery story. Nicorvo has produced a masterwork.” —Don Lee, author of The Collective

"It seems possible that Nicorvo has ingested all the darkness of this life and now breathes fire.” —Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

"Nicorvo hits the sweet spot in The Standard Grand, a novel that delivers the tough and tender, twisting and turning pleasures of classic noir, while paying all due respect to what Terry Southern called Qual Lit…Kaleidoscopic in its vision, encompassing in its humanity, here is a novel I wish I could send to Robert Stone." —Scott Spencer, bestselling author of Man in the Woods

Library Journal
02/01/2017
Four characters converge on an abandoned Catskills, NY, resort in this ambitious novel set in 2012. Vietnam veteran Milton Wright, whose wife's family owned the property in its Borscht Belt heyday, has converted it into the Standard Grand, a halfway house for homeless vets. Antebellum Smith, an army specialist sleeping in Central Park rather than face a third deployment (or her husband), becomes Wright's last hope to inherit the organization after his imminent death. Meanwhile, a multinational corporation with its own designs on the land has dispatched both a mercenary to infiltrate the group and a Mesoamerican negotiator to buy Wright out. As these different protagonists (and several others, including a cougar) jockey for position within the narrative, it's often unclear what story is truly being told, though Bellum eventually emerges as the novel's center. In its portrait of a country exhausted by war and drenched in conspiracies, poet Nicorvo's (Deadbeat: Poems) fiction debut is the spiritual heir to Robert Stone's Vietnam-era classic Dog Soldiers. Its depiction of the breathtaking but treacherous New York State mountains is reminiscent of Smith Henderson's similarly vivid Fourth of July Creek. VERDICT Regardless of the parallels found in other authors' earlier works, in capturing the story of one deserter's search for love and redemption in an increasingly corporatized America, Nicorvo carves out something truly original. [See Prepub Alert, 10/10/16.]—Michael Pucci, South Orange P.L., NJ
Kirkus Reviews
2017-02-02
An abandoned Borscht Belt resort becomes an unlikely flashpoint in a tale of big business and PTSD.Nicorvo's lively, if at times overly busy, debut novel is an ensemble affair involving a land battle for the Standard Grande, a one-time Catskills getaway that Milton, a Vietnam vet, has turned into an alpaca farm/halfway house for vets with PTSD. That sounds like a good hiding place for Bellum, an Army deserter who can't stomach leaving for her third deployment to Afghanistan. But Milton has debts and late-stage cancer, and a conglomerate called IRJ, Inc. is pondering a takeover of the land for fracking purposes. A pair of informal spies are conducting advance surveillance: Evangelína, a spitfire health nut and family friend of IRJ's COO, and Ray, an Iraq vet who's split with Milton but lives in a yurt near the camp. It takes a while for Nicorvo to get all these chess pieces in their appropriate positions, and he's prone to overlong descriptions and gassy exchanges of military tough talk. But by midpoint, after a key character is mauled by a cougar near the Grande, the novel finds a solid groove, becoming a seamless blend of road-trip saga, love story, and critique of military contractors. Bellum is the best-drawn of the cast of characters, from her PTSD issues to her estranged, pill-slinging husband to her struggle to find solid footing as a deserter. (The novel suggests that those who turn themselves in are forgiven with relative speed.) As such, for all its convolutions, the novel is thematically a straightforward tale about finding a home: "Maybe the place to begin was to make one supportive relationship and go gradually upward and outward from there," Bellum thinks, but Nicorvo smartly renders the legal, corporate, and military forces that can stand in the way of so simple a goal. An ambitious novel that effectively braids corporate greed, outdoorsy grit, and human connection.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250108944
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/25/2017
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
516,553
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)

Meet the Author

JAY BARON NICORVO lives on an old farm outside Battle Creek, MI, with his wife, Thisbe Nissen, their son, and a couple dozen chickens. His writing has appeared in Salon, Poets & Writers, and The Believer and has been featured on NPR and PBS NewsHour. He’s published a poetry collection, Deadbeat, and served as an editor at Ploughshares and at PEN America.

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The Standard Grand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
CathyGeha 3 months ago
The Standard Grand by Jay Baron Nicorvo This is not my usual reading fare. When I was finished I was ready for something lighter with a happily ever after ending. In one novel everything but the kitchen sink seemed to end up being discussed: big business, war(s), PTSD, atrocities, abuse, love, marriage, divorce, AWOL, war veterans, murder, religion, do-gooders, abortion, adoption, the right to die, infidelity, intercultural relationships, anger, spying, homelessness, evil…goodness…the list goes on. It all fits in but does make for a long convoluted plot that left me “wondering”. Wondering about what? A lot of things…mostly the things brought up in the book. Who would I recommend this book to? Tough question. Readers who are interested in war veterans, big business, intrigue and are willing to think about the bigger picture while reading snippets of the lives of the bit players. It will require the reader to stick with the book through the slow background building that is crucial in all of its parts when woven together. And it is no doubt best for people not looking for simple easy to read books that always have a HEA or HFN ending. I am still pondering as I sit here. In some ways I wish the book had a different ending BUT perhaps the ending I wanted would not have left me pondering and thinking as this story’s end did. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars