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Cara Hoffman. Simon & Schuster, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4767-5757-5

Hoffman’s excellent third novel (after Be Safe I Love You) follows acclaimed poet and professor Milo Rollock as he reminisces about his unscrupulous youth in Greece and the people who still haunt him. After leaving his working-class neighborhood to try and make a living as a boxer, Milo falls for Eton dropout Jasper Lethe. The two survive in Athens in the 1980s by working the local trains, goading tourists into staying in disreputable hotels. Nomadic Bridey Sullivan, an American teenager who was raised in the woods by her survivalist uncle, becomes their friend and lover. In the present, as a middle-aged man teaching creative writing in New York City, Milo sees himself in his talented student Tiffany Navas, but he is otherwise dismayed by his bourgeois existence. He moved to the U.S. in an attempt to reconnect with Bridey, who was pregnant when he last saw her. Jasper’s sociopathic and destructive tendencies long ago, including the fallout of a scam he masterminded that destroyed the reputation of a friend of Bridey’s, long ago sealed Jasper’s fate. Hoffman beautifully conveys the depths of Milo’s longing as well the personalities of his motley crew. (Feb.)