Less by Andrew Sean Greer | Book Review

Sunday 3 November 2019

It’s a new year and though I’m still reading new books, I wanted to finish up the reviews for last years books that I haven’t finished yet. But the first book I read in 2019 grabbed me and it had to jump to the front of the line. Anne and I decided we’d both start new books the minute the clock struck midnight and the new year began. I know, we’re just that cool. So after popping the sparkling wine we opened the brand new books we had just purchased. What drew me to Less by Andrew Sean Greer? I’ll be honest, I wanted to read a modern Pulitzer prize winning book. I’ve never read one. So what did I think? Did it live up to the hype? Here’s my review.
Let’s start off with the premise. Arthur Less is about to turn fifty and he’s positive his best years are about to be behind him. Not only that, but his ex-boyfriend, a younger man he spent many years with, is getting married. What’s more, Less just got his wedding invitation. Now what he needs more than anything is an excuse to skip town. The good news is he has a backlog of various invitations and he’s going to accept all of them. As the wedding and his birthday approach, Less finds himself on a trip around the world, but is it enough to escape both the coming nuptials and the ghosts of his past?
I have a not-so-secret love of romantic comedies so when I read the premise to Less, I knew there was a good chance it would be up my alley. I knew I was also taking a heck of a chance because it won some hoity-toity award and a lot of books that win awards as prestigious as the Pulitzer, are usually dry and dour books that can be considered “modern literature.” But I pushed any preconceived notions I had aside and jumped right in
You know what? Enough beating around the bush. I loved Less. It may even make it on my top ten list of all time favorite stand-alone books. The jury is still out on that one. Changing a top ten list is a big deal. But I digress. Andrew Sean Greer wove a wonderful story when he spun the tale of Arthur Less and his quest to escape the wedding of his former lover. The problem for Arthur was, you can never truly escape. No matter where he goes, from Mexico, to Morocco, to Japan, he has a shadow hanging over him and always runs into some sort of remind of the wedding and his birthday.
The problem some people have with romantic comedies is that they tend to be predictable. Comedies are usually happy movies thus we know that in a lot of cases, the guy is going to get the girl… or guy in this case. But Less never had the predictability to it. There were so many times I was sure I knew where the book was going and was proven wrong. The good news is that everything that happened, made sense. Greer stayed true to his character. Another great thing about the book was that even the parts that I did predict, didn’t occur like I thought they would so there was also a pleasant surprise, even when I guess what would come next.
The characters were what really made this story, and it’s more than just Arthur Less. There was Arthur’s first serious lover and the wonderful parallels between that relationship and the one with Freddy Pelu (The ex getting married). Even though I knew things with his first lover weren’t going to last, I couldn’t help but love reading about them and their time together. A lot of Arthur’s romantic history is told throughout this novel and not all in order. The book jumps around his past as parts of his present remind him of what had been.
Greer created his own wonderful little world that revolved around Arthur Less. I loved learning about him and especially ho the choices he made in the past affected the vary invitations he had accepted in order to avoid the future. The whole book has a great balance in it and a very well thought out cause and effect which has ripples that can be seen from the first chapter to the very last page.
I highly recommend that anyone who is even slightly interested pick this book up. It was enjoyable from start to finish and I laughed out loud more than once. My poor wife had to stop reading her book more than once so I could read some funny excerpt to her that would probably be way more enjoyable had she actually be reading the book, but there were parts that I just had to share.
I can see why this book won the Pulitzer for fiction. Not because of the wonderful story but because of the skill and writing prowess of Greer himself. That not only was the story fun to read, but I loved how it all came together so perfectly that I couldn’t possibly imagine a more fitting ending. This one book has made Andrew Sean Greer one of my favorite authors and I feel justified saying that even though I’ve never ready anything else he’s done.
Read this book. Go buy it, borrow it from the library, get it on your kindle, do whatever it takes and read one of the best books that I’ve ever read.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer gets an 11 out of 11
Bonus picture of Andrew Sean Greer and his super photogenic dog!

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