SUBTRACTION by Mary Robison
Kirkus Star

SUBTRACTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In her first novel in ten years, Robison (Believe Them; Oh!) delivers a sparkling valentine about a Harvard poetess and her great love for a drunken Dean Moriarty type, at his best when he's on the road. Paige Deveaux, improbably beautiful for a teacher of verse at Harvard, finds her husband Raf almost fatally charming. Fatally, because he's missing much of the time. This time she tracks him down in Houston with the help of his old Princeton buddy, a laconic street-cowboy named Raymond. Before attractive Raf decides to dry out, however, he takes Paige on a tour of the dark side of Houston--quoting Keats and showing her sniff (glue-sniffing) houses for Mexican kids. "" 'The palace is surrounded,' he said. 'The servants are plenty pissed.' "" A Princeton and Oxford-educated philosopher, Raf is consumed by things like the collapse of civilization and cosmic emptiness. He drinks himself silly, yet ""he does his best work in the air,"" capturing everyone's heart with his verbal and emotional radiance. ""I thought how even when Raf was deadstill, he had an intensity out of which someone could interpret a world."" When he ditches Paige in Houston, she follows him home to Brookline--only to be followed by lanky Raymond. Holed up in her pot-smoking mother's inn during a raging New England blizzard, the poetess reaches a kind of peace--the kind that is shattered the moment she sees Raf's haggard, lovable profile again. A funny, beautifully written novel, dry and bubbly as good champagne.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Knopf