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(Arthur Less #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  164,957 ratings  ·  18,662 reviews
You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years now engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes--it would all be too awkward--and you can’t say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of half-baked literary invitations you’ve received from around the world.

Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published July 18th 2017 by Lee Boudreaux Books
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Bookslut I thought it was great. I've read almost all of the Pulitzers, and this is one of my favorites. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. …moreI thought it was great. I've read almost all of the Pulitzers, and this is one of my favorites. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. (less)
Mary Frances If your book club enjoys a discussion around life's expectations and thwarted dreams, love, sickness and death, travel (and all of its joys and miseri…moreIf your book club enjoys a discussion around life's expectations and thwarted dreams, love, sickness and death, travel (and all of its joys and miseries) creativity and genius and a book that takes you back and forth from poignancy to laugh out loud humor, I'd say this is a great choice. There is more to this novel than we might first see and a book group is a great place to discover that. (less)

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Average rating 3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  164,957 ratings  ·  18,662 reviews

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Maggie Stiefvater
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, recommended
What a soft-hearted bastard of a novel.

It's the story of a failed — failing — novelist about to turn fifty. His long-time lover is marrying someone else, and he's been invited to the wedding. To avoid the whispers and rumors that would abound, he takes the only course of action he can imagine: accepting every literary invitation he's been putting off, a journey that will take him around the globe and well away from the wedding of the man he loved. Loves.

It had me from the first page, and I'm no
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to dislike this book for petty reasons grounded in irrationality but it's quite a brilliant novel, with exceptional writing and a depth of character rarely seen in fiction. I'm also surprised I loved this book because I hate books about writers.

Less is a frustrating man who gets in his own way all too often. There were many times when I wanted him to get his head out of his ass. Also, the narration doesn't quite work until the very end and then it all makes sense so I had to go back and
Lewis Weinstein
Jan 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
There is no story ... the main character is totally uninteresting and evokes no positive feelings ... the writing is competent but snarky, and also repetitive ... the tour guide information, country after country, is paper-thin and offers no particular insights
Less follows almost fifty-year-old Arthur Less, a not-so-popular novelist whose boyfriend of the past nine years is about to marry someone else. When Less gets the wedding invite, he decides to skip town and travel all around the world to different literary events. We accompany Less as he adventures to Paris, Berlin, India, and more.

Cutting to the chase: I did not like this book. Certain elements had potential, such as Less's fear of aging and his emotions surrounding past romantic relationships
May 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Go home, Pulitzer jury, you're drunk. ...more
Elyse  Walters

I can’t believe I’m writing this review the same day I came home from surgery.... but other than a little tire - I’m feeling ‘great’.....happy with what my surgeon did. After 3 surgeries last year for skin cancer - the loss of a half of a nose - a slice down my forehead- today was my first ‘repair’ surgery. I’m blown away - my nose ‘almost’ looks normal. Wow...such a ‘huge’ difference already. Sure - I need to heal- stitches and such - but it’s a miracle what the surgeon did.
This is my favorite kind of story.


It’s a rendition of life in its mundanities and monotony, a display of the fallacies and frustrations that make up our daily story, but one that refuses to flinch away from the breath-stealing beauty of it. The miraculousness and gorgeousness and fated magic of life.

And that type of story rarely wins awards. It is dismissed and mocked as treacly and feel-good. In all honesty I feel that if this book were written about or b
Larry H
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It's been said (in a catty way, of course) that after age 42 gay men become invisible, that no one wants an older gay man except, if they're lucky, another gay man. Andrew Sean Greer's beautifully moving but slightly uneven new novel, Less , deals with a man coming to terms approaching his 50th birthday, wondering if he'll ever find true love, and trying to define himself and his career. No small feat, there!

When he was in his early 20s, he was the boyfriend of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rob
Glenn Sumi
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer-winners
An Evening With Arthur Less (and yours truly):

I’ve been writing lots of traditional reviews for work lately, so I thought I’d try to make this one fun and entertaining to write... and hopefully read. If you’ll indulge me, here’s a Q&A with Arthur Less, the main character of Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Less.

First a bit of background. Less is a middle-aged, midlist novelist, who’s about to turn 50, and at the beginning of the book he’s just found out that Freddy, his younger
Justin Tate
The writing was magnificent, the witticisms numerous, but couldn’t get into the all-over-the-place story.
Julie G
Well, Mr. Andrew Sean Greer. . . looks like you and I will be meeting out for drinks after all.

What's that now? You're gay?

And I'm. . . married?


Semantics, my friend. Mere semantics.

Let's meet out, Andrew, and start with appetizers. Let's have one of those fantastic first dates. . . you know. . . the rare, but fabulous kind, where you keep ordering food you're too nervous to eat, because the anticipation is building and all you can think about is the magnetic connection of lips.

And, I've
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "adorable, whimsical, emotional, hilarious, glorious" stars !!

The Silver Award Read of 2021 (second favorite read)

I have had a fifteen minute cry. A cry of hope, of sweetness, of sadness, of love.

I have been dreading saying goodbye to Arthur Less. I have wanted to comfort him, to soothe him.
Arthur Less, an adorable insecure neurotic gentleman. Heartbroken, he circles the world, coming to terms with the autumn of his life (50 years), his perceived failings!, his unprocessed griefs, his ever
This is a beautifully written, lyrical, comic, often profound and moving Pulitzer winning novel, to me it often feels like a gay version of Eat, Pray, Love. A little known, gay and inconsequential writer, Arthur Less, is approaching 50 with fear, his body is displaying all the physical symptoms of getting older. In his mind, he is the first gay man to face the quandry of the aging process, he has known hardly any gay men who have lived to this age. His problems are intensified because his curren ...more
Violet wells
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
If you scroll down lists of Pulitzer or Booker winners you'll find novels that are almost certainly destined to become classics mixed in with others that raise an eyebrow and are relatively obscure and almost certainly destined to remain so. Some years, if there was nothing better than the winner on offer, you can't help feeling it might have been better to withhold the prize. To maintain the integrity of the prize. That this won the Pulitzer gives more weight to the suspicion that for the first ...more
4ish stars.

Such a clever book. For the first third or so, I felt like there was something missing. Was this really deserving of the Pulitzer? (PULL-it-sir, by the way, not PEW-lit-zer, as the characters and I learn). I couldn't quite put my finger on it... Too spoony? Too magniloquent (with the use of words such as peripateticism, quaalude, and magniloquent)? More like too insubstantial. Funny but fluffy. As Less's journey around the world continues, however, his story becomes fuller, deeper, wi
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fabulous, fantastic, gorgeous book! How on earth did something like this win something so serious as the Pulitzer? I am amazed.

I loved every beautifully written word. It was funny, it was clever, it was sad, it was quirky and it was totally addictive. How could you possibly not fall in love with Arthur Less? At first you conform with Arthur's opinion of himself but as the book progresses you start to realise that other people do not see him the way he sees himself.

The ending was just per
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Officially debunks Forster's "Maurice" as having the happiest ending EVER for a gay love story; it contains its won contemporary form of genuine sweetness. I read this quite carefully, underlining countless passages, as it will be out first LGBTQBC (Book Club) selection here at 'The Drop,' Denver. I could not have chosen a better novel!!

Its optimism is its main attribute. It is very funny, too. The Single & Sad Gay Man is deconstructed and we are better humans (not to say, fortunate readers) for
Alison Smith
I chose this book because the reviews implied it was hilarious. It was funny-ish, but not the gut-clenching laugh bomb I was hoping for. The story felt more like a surface-level, gay "Eat, Pray, Love" type of sojourn. And it was kind of depressing. Just not my thing, especially when I expected funny. : ( ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Vividly written but lacking a strong sense of direction, Less follows the titular character around the globe, from Germany to Japan, as he tries to outrun loneliness and middle age. Arthur Less is a middling novelist approaching fifty whose longtime flame Freddy has just announced he’s become engaged to another man. Less and Freddy have spent nine years together, and the former’s refusal to commit to marriage has finally caught up with him. In order to avoid attending Freddy’s wedding, or proces ...more
LESS would have been MORE?

I know that is a cheap wordplay on the title and the pun-filled content, but the novel has put me in that silly state of mind, and I find myself running away from my own review out of sheer laziness and lack of focus.

A Pulitzer Prize winning novel of mediocre skill describing a mediocre writer who lived with a Pulitzer Prize winning genius before settling on another lover, who in turn is about to get married to someone else at the beginning of the story - that is the
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update - as predicted, came back and changed my rating to a 5.

Completely endearing and moving portrait of a gay man in mid-life crisis. Forty-nine year old San Franciscan author Arthur Less has just been left by his lover of nine years and his latest book has been spurned by his publisher. His fiftieth birthday is fast approaching. Less receives a wedding invitation from his lover and is desperate to be somewhere else so he doesn't have to attend. What would any reasonable person do? Of course,
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-clubs, audio
2.5 rounded up

I started trying to listen to this earlier this fall and couldn’t get into it. But then our book club picked it for our December read, so I had no choice but to start up with it again.

Less is a writer of mediocre talents. His latest book has been declined by his publisher. Less’ ex-boyfriend of nine years is getting married and Less has been invited to the wedding. Looking for a plausible reason to avoid going, he accepts a whole series of engagements - panels, awards, teaching as
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Seemita by: Pulitzer Prize
How long can you walk in another person's shoes without feeling the pinch of it? A few minutes? Some hours perhaps? Or a couple of days? Now, what if I tell you it doesn’t hurt to walk in those shoes? Will you choose to walk longer in them? Will you come to wear the skin a little tighter? Will you understand its soft corners a little better? Will you accept its rough edges a little easily?

In Arthur Less’, I did.

No, I am neither a failed author nor have I been in a relationship with a celebrity.
R.K. Gold
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
For such a short book it took me a really long time to read. I wish I liked it more. I enjoyed the author’s sense of humor but the story itself was awkwardly paced and though I spent a majority of the book in Arthur’s head i didn’t feel much of anything towards him.

The last line of the book was great, it almost read like the author had that line in mind before he even started writing the book.

A story of a 50-year-old man finding himself through world travel and written in a humorous tone should
Arthur Less is about to turn 50 and has just received an invitation to a wedding he wants to avoid at all costs. It's the wedding of Freddy, a man who had been Arthur's lover for nine years. This book documents his world travels - a mishmash of appointments across the globe planned with the express purpose of avoiding the dreaded nuptials - during which, we hope, he will achieve a sort of wisdom about his life.

He's a writer, and his latest, unfinished book is about the sorrows of a middle aged
Elle (ellexamines)
Once you’ve actually been in love, you can’t live with “will do”; it’s worse than living with yourself.

This book made me so much more emotional than I expected.

Following Arthur Less, a writer down on his luck, as he travels around the country to avoid the wedding of his ex, who is also his one-time-rival Carlos’s nephew. Things do not go as planned. Ever. Add in a complex relationship with a literary-genius ex and the question of the past vs. the future.

The writing of this book is
Jan 24, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I'm actually borderline angry that I read this all the way through? ...more
Michael Ferro
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fantastically written, both witty and gut-bustlingly funny, and empathic in all the right ways, LESS is a very fine book. As advertised, it was a truly entertaining read and one that often showcased a real talent for emotional depth, while still maintaining that sly edge of humor—and this is no easy task, as combining the sad and funny is a true fine line.

As a writer (and an even less important one than the self-effacing main character, Arthur Less), I found it thoroughly enjoyable to read abou
“As for Less, Freddy was not even his type. Arthur Less had always fallen for older men; they were the real danger. Some kid who couldn’t even name the Beatles? A diversion; a pastime; a hobby.”

Arthur Less was a pale, intelligent, bespectacled schoolboy who grew up to be presentably tall, blond and moderately successful as an author. Attractive enough to appeal to plenty of men, particularly, Robert, a world-famous poet (of the “Russian River School”) who became his partner long enough for Art
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Andrew Sean Greer is not merely a beautiful storyteller, he is a breathtaking stylist. I loved Arthur Less's journey -- his transformation -- and I savored his adventures (some of which are howlingly funny). But I was also deeply moved by the poignancy of his experiences. One moment, I would be chuckling, and the next I would be rereading a paragraph, devastated. This is an absolutely terrific novel. I'd say it should win a Pulitzer, but, of course, it already has. ...more
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Andrew Sean Greer (born 1970) is an American novelist and short story writer.

He is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named one of the best books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a California Book Award.

The child of two scientists, Greer studied writing

Other books in the series

Arthur Less (2 books)
  • Less Is Lost

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Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we humbly endeavor to provide readers with book lists that will be useful, or interesting, or at least...
372 likes · 78 comments
“He kisses—how do I explain it? Like someone in love. Like he has nothing to lose. Like someone who has just learned a foreign language and can use only the present tense and only the second person. Only now, only you. There are some men who have never been kissed like that. There are some men who discover, after Arthur Less, that they never will be again.” 223 likes
“Strange to be almost fifty, no? I feel like I just understood how to be young."
"Yes! It's like the last day in a foreign country. You finally figure out where to get coffee, and drinks, and a good steak. And then you have to leave. And you won't ever be back.”
More quotes…