It is rare that I read a book that has won as many accolades as Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The national best seller went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and even though I was initially questioning what all the hype was about, once Arthur Less starts his travels, I couldn’t help but get swept up in this story about a little known novelist, trying to live off the acclaim he received from his first book and past relationship with a famous, aging poet.
When Less Andrew’s on again / off again lover (who is much younger than him) sends him an invitation to his wedding, it proves to be more than he can handle. That news, combined with the realization that he will turn 50 in a few months results in a comical midlife crisis. Less decides to decline the wedding invitation and embark on an around the world trip first to NYC then Europe before heading to Morocco, India and finally Japan before settling back home in San Francisco. I think of the trip as a funnier and more relatable, Eat, Pray Love (gay men of a certain age are really going to enjoy).
Less is about a struggling gay author who suffers a spectacular midlife crisis which Greer details beautifully in his book.
Andrew Sean Greer makes a handful of literary references in each chapter, most of which go over my head, but in spite of those references, I found myself either smiling or laughing as I turned the pages. The book is also full of really beautiful insights like this conversation Less has with a friend late one night in Morocco after he learns his friend is splitting with his partner of 20 years. His friend, Lewis, refuses to think of his 20 year relationship as anything but a success.
“But you broke up with him. Something’s wrong. Something failed.
No! No, Arthur, no, it’s the opposite! I’m saying it’s a success. Twenty years of joy and support and friendship, that’s a success. Twenty years of anything with another person is a success…
You can’t do this, Lewis. You’re Lewis and Clark. Lewis and fucking Clark. It’s my only hope out their that gay men can last.
Oh Arthur. This is lasting. Twenty years is lasting! And this has nothing to do with you.”
This book can be purchased online at major resellers but you may also buy this in person or online at local bookstores. If you’re open to supporting local bookstores try one of these links, which will take you right to the book so you can make a quick purchase online if that is your preference.
Brookline Booksmith 279 Harvard Street by Coolidge Corner
Harvard Bookstore 1256 Mass Ave in Harvard Square
Papercuts JP 5 Green Street, Jamaica Plain
Porter Square Bookstore 25 White Street in Porter Square
Trident Bookseller’s & Cafe 338 Newbury Street in Back Bay