New in Paperback: ‘Blowout’ and ‘The Last Trial’

AT THE CENTER OF ALL BEAUTY: Solitude and the Creative Life, by Fenton Johnson. (Norton, 272 pp., $15.95.) An author of novels, essays and memoirs who grew up next door to Trappist monks, Johnson argues that solitude, the opposite of loneliness, is essential not only to creativity (as evidenced by the outputs of 11 historic arts figures), but also to living fully, and usefully, in the world.

RUN ME TO EARTH, by Paul Yoon. (Simon & Schuster, 288 pp., $17.) “Beauty and violence coexist” in a universe “by turns cruel and wondrous,” our reviewer, Tash Aw, wrote of this “richly layered” novel that follows three Laotian children whom we meet in a field hospital during American bombing raids. What they don’t yet realize is “how the pain of their wartime years will spread its tentacles … across continents and over decades.”

STRONGHOLD: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon, by Tucker Malarkey. (Random House, 368 pp., $18.) The “Melvillian showdown” that ensues when a Russian oligarch dares an American conservationist to catch a giant Siberian salmon on a fly rod in Kamchatka is the climax of what our reviewer, Nate Blakeslee, called an “ambitious,” “finely drawn” profile.

MY DARK VANESSA, by Kate Elizabeth Russell. (Morrow, 400 pp., $17.99.) Taking its title from Nabokov’s “Pale Fire,” this “clever, unsettling” debut novel, in the words of our reviewer, Katie Roiphe, is at once “a creepy account” of the abuse of a 15-year-old boarding school student by her 42-year-old English teacher and “an overwrought teenage girl’s love story” told by “a classic unreliable narrator.”

BLOWOUT: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth, by Rachel Maddow. (Crown, 448 pp., $20.) The “through-line” of this “rollickingly well-written” book on the geopolitical consequences of the oil and gas boom of the last 20 years, according to our reviewer, Fareed Zakaria, is “Russia’s development into a full-blown petrostate” and Putin’s use of his resulting consolidation of power to “protect himself and disrupt the West.”

THE LAST TRIAL, by Scott Turow. (Grand Central, 464 pp., $16.99.) The final book in Turow’s Kindle County series brings the career of the defense attorney Alejandro (Sandy) Stern, who held center stage in “The Burden of Proof,” to an end. The Times critic Janet Maslin deemed Sandy’s last case satisfyingly “true to form.”

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