DO NOT MISS – Beautiful, Emotional, Full of Universal Truth. Awarded 5 stars on Goodreads.
Reading this novel felt to me like looking at a masterpiece of art that I slowly came to understand the longer I stared at it. It also showed me why some books, like this one, deserve a Pulitzer Prize and most others don’t.
What makes this book so wonderful is not simply a creative storyline, or a sympathetic protagonist, or important and well-integrated universal themes. It’s how Greer managed to so perfectly weave all three together to create something so unique, so beautiful, and so full of human truth.
His central character is 50ish, moderately successful writer Arthur Less, whose latest manuscript has just been rejected by his long-time publisher. Deeply discouraged, preoccupied about turning 50, and fearful that the best part of his life may be over, Less cobbles together a trip around the world out of a pile of nearly-forgotten invitations. This will give him a chance to rewrite his manuscript, as well as providing an acceptable excuse for not attending a former lover’s wedding.
As I traveled with Less —to Italy, Germany, France, Morocco, India, and Japan — and as he is reacquainted with aging friends, grabbing a few brief sexual experiences and suffering some personal humiliations, I came to care for him so deeply. Because throughout this mid-life crisis, he demonstrates such honesty, humor, and humanity — all the while struggling to give his life enough meaning to keep going.
The voice that the author gives Less is distinctive and insightful, often quirky, and so full of grace that each sentence is a pleasure to read. And you will find Less full of profound observations which will strike a cord with your own. The life questions he ponders and the deep longing for love that is at his core are so universal that I came to identify with him completely. Despite the face that I am a retired heterosexual female and Less is a mid-life gay male. The similarities between us were so overwhelming that the differences simply didn’t matter.
The novel left me crying at the end and so sorry it was over. LESS is fresh, engaging, and deeply emotional. Congratulations, Mr. Greer, on a well-deserved Pulitzer!
More about Andrew Sean Greer.
And here’s a link to his Wikipedia page.
You may be interested in my review of the 2022 sequel to Less, Less is Lost.
Or my review of another book by Greer, The Story of a Marriage.