Less

Less

A Novel

Large Print - 2018 | Large print edition
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Receiving an invitation to his ex-boyfriend's wedding, Arthur, a failed novelist on the eve of his fiftieth birthday, embarks on an international journey that finds him falling in love, risking his life, reinventing himself, and making connections with the past.
Publisher: New York :, Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company,, 2018
Edition: Large print edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780316529105
Branch Call Number: LP FIC GRE
Characteristics: 341 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
large print.,rda

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Rachelc24
Nov 20, 2019

I would have enjoyed reading g it better than the audio book. Good though

j
jstalmer
Oct 02, 2019

This was a far more profound novel than I first took it to be. There were parts that touched me deeply and I was surprised what I felt at the end. This novel is about so many things. All the big things and the little things under the dramatic masks of tragedy and comedy. The story is mostly about everything you really want being on the other side of fear.

I really like how the novel was organized. It gets progressively deeper and deeper while keeping its sense of humor. I think this would make a great movie depending on who was cast as the lead.

The first chapter had a breezy way about it and was light and fun and quirky. It was an excellent way to bring the reader into the story. By the time I got to page 30, the protagonist’s angst had turned into something sort of endearing.

There were so many interesting things in this novel. Such as the protagonist, once having loved and lived with a genius, wondering where that genius comes from and where it all eventually goes. He also muses about how that genius is like allowing another lover into the bed, the whole time knowing you’ll never hold a candle to that other lover. It was an interesting way to talk about living with a writer.

About a third of the way into the novel, it struck me how uncomfortable the protagonist was in almost every situation. He always seemed to feel like he was on the outside even when he was center stage. The fact that he threw himself into a frying pan of center stage after center stage is comic as well as poignant. When the protagonist alludes to being akin to a character in a Stephen King novel with a bucket of blood about to douse him, it’s both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Until about 100 pages in, the novel is mostly light and comic, though with some deep and poignant things to say. I wasn’t sure about the rhythm of the story at first, but it grew on me. I really knew the protagonist so well by this point without having been aware that the author was making sure of it. This was impressive.

The narrator’s description of the protagonist being bad in bed was really good. As was the moment when the protagonist is informed of his literary crimes and why he isn’t more successful. People are judged all the time for not living their best lives, for not getting it just right. That damn Goldilocks is everywhere. Or maybe we all have an internal Goldilocks, one that has zero clue that we think much more about what others might be thinking about us than others ever spend wondering about us.

I loved some of the author’s run-on descriptions. The novel is peppered with delightful little descriptions where the author takes on the point of view of the other. There is also lots of witty dialog salt and peppered throughout the novel.

On the surface, the novel seems like a breezy international road trip tale, but upon a deeper looks it’s really about the journey of life and how we get to where we get and how it feels when we don’t feel we are where we want or deserve to be, when all those left turns seem like not our life. It’s about realizing the life you think you aren’t living is the life you are in fact living. And the realization that you cant go back in time because there is a time and season for everything and it all goes by pretty fast. One day if you are lucky you will be old and wrinkly and no longer worrying about such shallow things as what you look like or how others see you. Who we are left with is the question and the challenge is to figure out the answer. Aging forces all of us to back away from the external and make more time for our internal life. It’s a gift for those that embrace it and a hell for those that don’t.

When you get to the end, you see the bookend of the first chapter. It was a very cool structure.

t
Trcr
Sep 29, 2019

Did I miss something? It won a Pulitzer. I read it and thought it just okay. Was there some deep meaning that is so wonderful, artistic, literary that I missed every reference? It is a book about a gay writer who is woefully lacking self awareness and probably relied on his looks most of his life. And it ends with a gay writer who is still lacking self awareness and now 50.
When it said that he accepts these invites around the world I was naively hoping that there would be some interest in descriptions of the places, events, culture that he encounters. Nope just him trying to pick up men everywhere he goes and dragging his woe is me attitude around. Boring!

5
527parkside
Sep 26, 2019

New Appleby please for pickup

c
ckapadia
Aug 28, 2019

This is one of the best stories I've read in a while, it's fairly short and moves very quickly. I usually read YA but this was a great book with an older protagonist. The author has a flair for language, and it's funny to see Arthur stumble through these awkward and unusual situations.

sjpl_DanaLibrariana Aug 26, 2019

I read this book thinking it would be a great travel read and it didn't disappoint. I became invested in the main character, Arthur Less, and appreciated his trials and tribulations as he traveled to various locations. The book has some humor, some sorrow and some romance.

e
EmilyWalter
Jul 10, 2019

I had finished "Overstory" another Pulitzer prized winner and was greatly disappointed and thought I might just stop reading anything that won the Pulitzer. Thank goodness I gave this book a go. I thoroughly enjoyed "Arthur Less." What a wonderful character that I could totally relate to. It's just a fun read!

e
EljayJohnson
May 18, 2019

This is the coming-of-middle-age story of Arthur Less, middling novelist, "bad gay," and lovelorn single man. His one-true-love is marrying another after he pushed him away, so Less embarks on a world tour to miss the wedding and spend his 50th birthday alone. Less is gentle, smart, often hapless, and on a mission to become More. This dreamy, ruminative novel succeeds as a character study and a travelogue. The writing is lovely and sly and observant. And Less/Greer believe in the virtue of happiness and the possibility of love; balms in the stress of a reader's real life. My gratitude for the perfect ending.

s
ssemegran
May 13, 2019

Like any curious writer, I occasionally read the award-winning books of the Pulitzer and Booker variety. I also watch award-winning movies (Oscars, Golden Globes, etc.) and listen to award-winning albums (Grammys, Pulitzer, et al.). I like to see what all the hub-bub is about and judge for myself. I really wanted to love Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It’s classified as humorous (awesome) literary (even better) fiction. That’s my wheelhouse (disclaimer: I also write humorous literary fiction). Unfortunately, I didn’t love it. Sad, I know.

Published book blurb for Less: 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. How do you arrange to skip town? You accept them all.

This is the setup to how Arthur Less avoids suffering and humiliation. He escapes. And this is what Greer uses to setup a series of comedic situations to drop author Arthur Less into. Some are amusing. Arthur believes he’s fluent in German (he’s not) while staying in Germany. His translated books are brilliant overseas (they’re not. Maybe artfully translated). Comedic (?) foibles unfold. Arthur flies around the world, takes pills, hops in the sack(s) with various assistants and travel companions. He ruminates about past transgressions. Or does he since the book is narrated by someone else? This someone’s identity is the novel’s big reveal. Don’t worry; I won’t spoil it.

I found the character of Less to be annoying and unlikeable. I know there are readers that are attracted to this type of hot-mess, Peter Pan-esque, worried about aging / too vain for their own good character. I guess I'm not one of them. The narrator is fascinated with Arthur Less, infatuated even, the same way a pet owner is in love with their scrappy dog that pees on the rug while they claim it to be the cutest dog in the world. It’s not; it’s a dog that pees on the rug.

There is an airy, whimsical quality to Greer’s writing. It goes down like a fresh-baked croissant does with an espresso while sitting on the patio of a French bistro. But there is also a shallowness that is cloying. It’s lack of plot is unfortunate. And I kept thinking: What is so great about Arthur Less? More so, what is so great about Less? There is no accounting for the taste of the Pulitzer judges, I guess.

In the book, there is a passage where Arthur’s old flame, Robert, actually wins the Pulitzer Prize (just like Andrew Sean Greer did?!), then a mutual friend of theirs explains:

“Prizes aren’t love. Because people who never met you can’t love you. The slots for winners are already set, from here until Judgment Day. They know the kind of poet who’s going to win, and if you happen to fit the slot, then bully for you! It’s like fitting a hand-me-down suit. It’s luck, not love. Not that it isn’t nice to have luck... "

I guess this novel had the luck this time. It must have been awkward for Greer to receive the Pulitzer after writing such a passage. Right? Probably not. He won the prize anyway. Bully for him.

m
mtnelligan
Apr 20, 2019

I loved his novel, Max Tivoli , so I was very disappointed, to say the least, with this Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Neither my wife nor I could get into it, and we both gave up after reading the first third. This is definitely not a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

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samrouthier
Jul 25, 2017

samrouthier thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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