“Robison raises sitcom wit to the level of real emotional situations, real comedy and real art.” —The Chicago Tribune
“Subtraction stands out as a high–wire act of the novel form—taut in expression yet rich with humanity, expertly crafted and unfairly neglected.” —The Millions
Paige Deveaux, poet and Harvard professor, is tracking her husband Raf, who has vanished once again. Paige trails him to Houston, where he is holed up in a seedy bar, drunk and cheerfully ashamed of himself. He’s very glad to see her: she’s the only girl for him (and he should know—he’s tried most of the others).
Finding Raf is one thing, but holding on to him is another. To sober him up, to keep him sober, to keep him, Paige enlists Raf’s old friend Raymond (himself an ex–alcoholic) and Raf’s new friend Pru, a holistically inclined contortionist–stripper. For a while life, and Raf, seem to settle down. But this foursome is nothing but trouble for one another. Pru is a hit–and–run artist, a sexual desperado who has already broken Raymond’s heart, and now Raymond is growing sweet on Paige. As Raf says, “Assorted wretchednesses ensue.”