Rebecca's Reviews > Less

Less by Andrew Sean Greer
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bookshelves: pulitzer-prize, newbury-library

“Who the hell is Arthur Less?” Less reminded me of the eponymous antiheroes of Lucky Jim and Pnin: all three are bumbling and slightly pathetic figures that you come to root for. When Less, an obscure gay novelist based in San Francisco, learns that his former lover is marrying another guy, he decides he’ll conveniently be out of the country for the wedding and for his 50th birthday, which he’s dreading. He accepts all the random invitations he’s had recently: a literary festival in Mexico, a prize ceremony in Italy, a visiting professorship in Germany, a friend of a friend’s birthday bash in Morocco, a writers’ retreat in India, and a journalistic assignment in Japan.

I’ve realized I don’t particularly like episodic novels where the action is split neatly into different locales via a road trip or the like. I also didn’t find Less a particularly compelling character. He’s held up – by critics as much as by the narrator – as some tragicomic paragon; like the hero of his work-in-progress, Swift, he’s also an Odysseus stand-in undertaking a mock-epic journey just to end up back where he started, appreciating what he had all along. There’s some trickery about who the narrator ends up being – clever, I suppose, but slightly annoying. And I didn’t laugh much, really just at his misuse of the German language. It just goes to show how subjective humor is. I have an awfully hard time believing that this was the best American novel of the past year.
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Reading Progress

July 13, 2017 – Shelved
July 13, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 19, 2018 – Shelved as: pulitzer-prize
August 10, 2018 – Shelved as: newbury-library
August 11, 2018 – Started Reading
August 23, 2018 – Finished Reading

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