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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Book Review: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

I already had my eye on this book when it won the Pulitzer Prize. That really made me sit up and pay attention as humorous books (or movies) never win prestigious prizes! So I suggested it for my book club. It was my very first time ever hosting book club, and in my new bookclub, the host gets to pick the book. You can make a short list and get feedback, which I did, since I'm still new.

Arthur Less is a middle-aged gay man living in San Francisco, when he gets a wedding invitation for his ex-boyfriend's wedding. He is a novelist with a middling amount of success who spent his twenties as the paramour/muse/houseboy to an older prestigious poet. Then his thirties and forties were spent floundering and getting his feet back under him after that relationship ran its course. He eventually started a relationship with the son of a frenemy who he knew was completely wrong for him, which made it easier: no future, guaranteed. But when the younger man eventually pushed for more and broke it off, Arthur found himself at loose ends. And then, a scant year later, he's getting married?

Well. That is the worst. Arthur can't go. And he can't not go. Something catches his eye on his desk--an invitation. Not of the wedding variety, but a professional invite to be a speaker abroad. He grasps at it. And searching, finds others. He cobbles together a many-months-long trip abroad to Germany, Paris, Japan, Morocco, and India. Yes, he's going to turn 50 and he's alone and his successful novel was years behind him, but he's going to keep moving. Now he has a great excuse for skipping the wedding, and he can run away from his problems. Right? That always works out, doesn't it?

But he can't get Freddy out of his mind. (Or his head out of his ass.) He's selfish, superficial, solipsistic, but I found him endearing. He's earnest and wishes he could do things different and he is trying to change up his life and his future. He's somewhat blind to what he needs to do, but aren't we all? And I loved the twist towards the end when I figured out there was a narrator and it wasn't third-person, and then to figure out who that narrator was! It was a great twist.

So Arthur travels the world, and in the end, love wins. And you'll laugh a bunch. What more can you want from a book?

I bought this book at Watchung Booksellers, an independent bookstore.

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