As with a dozen other American novels a reader might find an era documented in Less Than Zero, some borderland early 1980s that could only occur in California. In Los Angeles reduced to rooms and malls, empty movie theaters and smoke-filled cars, the brutal freeways and just as frequent billboards. One of the novel's epigraphs is from X's 1982 album, Under the Big Black Sun.
In 1985 I was listening intently to their next album, More Fun in the New World (1983). The opening chords of "The New World" crisp on vinyl. What's emblematic about the novel is its short, concise and disconnected chapters. Untitled, they could be rearranged and still maintain the plot's arc, they're broken from the start. The quick wit of the dialogue, an array of subterranean English, California slang tongues. Admittedly, the story is deppressing and lacking any hope, only one of the repeated images, a billboard sign that reads: DISAPPEAR HERE, which the narrator Clay notices while driving and keeps seeing in LA or in his head. (Fredric Jameson's essay on Los Angeles in The Cultural Turn. Or Bret Easton Ellis's Lunar Park.)
An outline of a dozen white stucco condominiums across the intercoastal waterway at sunset, birds drifiting up & down along the shores, traffic lights crossing the causeways.