Book Review: Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, Fiction

LessLess by Andrew Sean Greer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Arthur Less, the protagonist of the novel Less. I’ve occasionally fallen in love with the voice of an author or one of their characters but then realised that I liked reading about them, but wouldn’t necessarily want to spend time with them. So I’m not sure I’d like to hang out with Arthur, necessarily, but it was very fun to follow him around the world in this book.

Plus I have much more in common with him than I’d knew before I started reading. He’s 49 years old at the start of the book, and I’ll reach 49 in less than a month. We both have mispronounced Pulitzer for our entire lives. We both have grandiose plans, abandoned, every vacation to somehow fit some form of exercise into our trip.

These similarities and more made it the kind of book that I wanted to share anecdotes about with friends, mention phrases and situations that made me chuckle heartily. I loved how carefully it was plotted, and was surprised by the big reveal at the book’s end. And it’s lovely, unabashedly romantic conclusion.

The writing was engaging and skilful, drawing one in with a light tone or cajoling, and then surprising with amusing but not forced metaphors and then suddenly (when appropriate) beautifully poetic and emotional sentences.

I loved how casually gay Arthur and the book are, and that the book wasn’t consigned to the category of ‘gay fiction’ and has instead won the Pulitzer Prize this year (and I loved the meta-fiction that there is a discussion about winning the Pulitzer Prize in the book, which the author I’m sure couldn’t have predicted).

Perhaps most of all, reading it on a flight to Canada to spend some time caring for my mother, who fell and had a serious brain injury, I was so grateful that it made me laugh with such enjoyment in the midst of a difficult time. Thanks Arthur Less, and to his creator, Andrew Sean Greer, for this bit of light.

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