Sunday, August 6, 2017

"Less," by Andrew Sean Greer

I like books that surprise me, and “Less” (Little, Brown, 2017), by Andrew Sean Greer, did that. I was already a fan of this writer, especially of “The Story of a Marriage,” so I was predisposed to like “Less,” and I did like it. The “Less” in question is Arthur Less (but clearly the title can be interpreted in other ways too…this insecure character may feel he is “less”), a middle-aged, mid-list writer who decides he absolutely cannot attend his former lover Freddy’s wedding; it would be too sad and too humiliating. So Less decides to make sure to be out of town, and in fact mostly out of the country, for several weeks. He does this by cobbling together acceptances to invitations to teach, speak, read, and write, in Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, Morocco, and India. Naturally various adventures, mostly comic, ensue, along with a bit of romance. Arthur is sometimes a bit of a sad sack, but he is very self-aware about this, and he is also an endearing character whom one roots for. The way the novel is structured is intriguing (a chapter for each country Less visits), and enjoyable to read. Greer has some fun with some stereotypes about gay men facing the prospect of aging, about writers, about Americans abroad, about lovers and ex-lovers everywhere, and various other targets, but the fun is administered lovingly.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter