An avian allegory: Dinosaurs, by Lydia Millet, reviewed

Adapt or die. That brutal Darwinian dictum is too blunt to serve as the motto of Dinosaurs, Lydia Millet’s slim, quietly powerful 12th novel, but the threat of extinction, implicit in the title, hovers in the air. Bird-obsessed – our feathered friends are ‘the last of the dinosaurs’ – the novel tracks two years in the life of a ‘stricken’ character who feels ‘less than whole’. Gil was damaged in early childhood by the sudden death of both parents, and then by a second abandonment, by a long-term girlfriend who absconded, leaving a three-word note: ‘I met someone.’ Gil is rich, having inherited his grandfather’s fortune. He has few friends

Back on the road: Less is Lost, by Andrew Sean Greer, reviewed

Get ready for more of Less: Andrew Sean Greer’s hapless novelist is back on the road. First things first: you need to have read Less, Greer’s Pulitzer-winning first outing for his creation, to appreciate this slighter but equally charming sequel. That’s no hardship. Less was hilarious and humane: a hymn to second acts. In it, Arthur Less – a tentative, faded Battenberg blond-and-pink man, around whom embarrassments and misunderstandings coalesce – scuttled across the world to avoid facing his 50th birthday and the wedding of his long-time lover Freddy to someone else, both imminent. In Less is Lost, Arthur has a stranger and scarier destination for a West Coast homosexual:

God is everywhere, sometimes in strange guises, in Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads

Twenty years ago The Corrections alerted a troubled world to the talents of Jonathan Franzen. Though cruel and funny and aggressively clever, the novel did more than display its author’s spiky brilliance. A stubborn moral core, in the person of the ailing patriarch of the Lambert family, and a tangled web of fierce emotion binding him and his wife and three children, gave it powerful resonance. Franzen’s new novel, Crossroads, presents us with another patriarch and another set of dysfunctional family dynamics. What has changed in the past two decades? Now less inclined to show off, Franzen is more assiduous in his excavation of character. We get less dazzle and