The name on everybody’s lips is Less! It seems like everywhere I turn everyone is reading Less by Andrew Sean Greer. My friends, my family, people on the subway, all over the internet! People are totally Less obsessed. So obvi I needed to know what the buzz was all about. Honestly, I am not one to avoid the popular thing just because it is popular; if everyone is talking about something then you know I am there! Also, this book has hardware; who can resist a Pulitzer Prize winner?! And, it’s gay! Who needs more reasons, sign me up!
Let’s set the scene: Arthur Less is about to turn 50, he is an author of minor success, and he just received an invitation to his boyfriend-of-the-last-9-year’s wedding. Needless to say, things are less than great for Arthur Less. But how to decline the wedding invite without risking embarrassment and admitting defeat? Double book, bish! Arthur chooses to accept a hodgepodge of invites to events that will take him around the world and most importantly a world away from the upcoming nuptials. A literary festival in Italy? Yes! A friend of a friend’s birthday in the Moroccan desert? Of course! A writing residency in India? Sign him up! We follow Arthur as he stumbles his way through adventures and mishaps, all while he continually grapples with his aging, his professional successes and failures, being a “bad gay,” his past romances, and of course his ex-BFs wedding (girl, did he really think running away would work?!)
It struck me that Less is the anti Eat, Pray, Love novel. Arthur travels the world not longing for self-discovery or personal growth, but to avoid and escape his life. And I love that! It tells us everything we need to know to really understand our protagonist. I’m not saying Arthur is successful at escaping or that he doesn’t discover parts of himself along the way, but the concept makes for a much more believable story. I mean, who really quits her job to travel the world in search of herself and is actually successful at it AND falls in love with a Brazilian?!? Come on, it’s 2018! She would have been human-trafficked or at the very least in deep debt!
Throughout it all, Less is a joy to read. Greer is a superb writer, creating a narrative that is amusing yet heartwarming, specific yet universal. Greer seamlessly weaves Arthur’s present adventures with flashbacks, making Arthur and the Less universe fully-formed and well-developed. And the book is witty. I found myself taking note of the book’s numerous quips and observations. The book was funny in a way that made me smile, not necessarily laugh out loud. And can we talk about the ending? No, since I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll just say it is a treat.
Is Less a book that will stick with me forever: maybe not. But is it a book that I will pick up to re-read: definitely. It’s fun while still addressing big life issues. And that, for me, is more than enough of a reason to read Less.
- Title: Less
- Author: Andrew Sean Greer
- Published: July 18, 2017 (Lee Boudreaux Books)
- Genre: Fiction, LGBT
- Booky Nooky Rating: * * * *