A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel full of "arresting lyricism and beauty" (The New York Times Book Review).
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
A Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2017
A San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Book of 2017
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, the Lambda Award, and the California Book Award
Who says you can't run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?
ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.
Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.
A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as "inspired, lyrical," "elegiac," "ingenious," as well as "too sappy by half," Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.
"I could not love LESS more."--Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"Andrew Sean Greer's Less is excellent company. It's no less than bedazzling, bewitching and be-wonderful."--Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
We loved every second of Andrew Sean Greer’s funny, globe-trotting story about a middling writer running away from heartache. When Arthur Less receives an invitation to his ex-lover’s wedding, he concocts a crazy brilliant plan to RSVP no while saving face: say “yes” to all the random offers that have come his way. From a book festival in Mexico City to a teaching gig in Berlin, we follow along for all the hilarious pratfalls and melancholy flashbacks. With its tenderhearted hero and humorous takes on the literary world and the indignities of aging, Less is a delight from start to finish.
In Greer's wistful new novel, a middle-aged writer accepts literary invitations around the world making his way from San Francisco to New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan so that he will have an excuse not to attend the wedding of a long-time lover. Arthur Less is not known primarily for his own work but for his lengthy romantic association with a Pulitzer Prize winning author, an older man who was married to a woman when their liaison began, and he believes himself to be the butt of many cosmic jokes and that he is "less than" in most equations. This is partially proven true, but not entirely. And even in Less's mediocrity, when aided by a certain amount of serendipity (and displayed by the author with ironic humor), he affects people. Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli), an O'Henry-winning author, writes beautifully, but his occasionally Faulknerian sentences are unnecessary. He is entirely successful, though, in the authorial sleights of hand that make the narrator fade into the background only to have an identity revealed at the end in a wonderful surprise.
Four and a half stars.
Though the first half of this book was digested only in intermittent readings as the prose caught me, but the story did not quite, the second half pulled me in, increasing it’s hold, pulling smiles and chuckles until I woke early to find out what came next. It’s humour laced with sadness wrung tears from me too - though not the tragic. The best writing bits for me were in the last poetic chunk. Where metaphors and themes came together.
There were many peek-holes into life’s quirks, perfectly described.
Such as a certain passage about the death of a loved one or how the authors illustrates how truthfully we humans most often fall in love unceremoniously, in the strangest ways and in benign, habitual moments. These passages are breathtaking in their telling.
Throughout the story, the writer’s tale is woven in comedy and also a wry realism that plays with tragedy. Making for a delicious rescue of our protagonist and celebrating finding one’s own purpose and true love.