Less

Less

by Andrew Sean Greer

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Overview

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel full of "arresting lyricism and beauty" (The New York Times Book Review).

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
National Bestseller
A New York Times Notable Book of 2017
A Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2017
A San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Book of 2017
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, the Lambda Award, and the California Book Award



Who says you can't run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as "inspired, lyrical," "elegiac," "ingenious," as well as "too sappy by half," Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

"I could not love LESS more."--Ron Charles, The Washington Post

"Andrew Sean Greer's Less is excellent company. It's no less than bedazzling, bewitching and be-wonderful."--Christopher Buckley, The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316316125
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/18/2017
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 11,805
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author of five works of fiction, including The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named a best book of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune. He is the recipient of the Northern California Book Award, the California Book Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, the O Henry award for short fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Public Library. Greer lives in San Francisco. He has traveled to all of the locations in this novel, but he is only big in Italy.

Hometown:

San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

November 21, 1970

Place of Birth:

Washington, D.C.

Education:

B.A. in English, Brown University, 1992; M.F.A . in Fiction, University of Montana, 1996

What People are Saying About This

Adam Haslett

“I missed subway stops. I doubled over in laughter. I experienced more pure reading pleasure than I have in ages. Treat yourself to this book. It is hilarious, and wise, and abundantly fun.”

Customer Reviews

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Less: A Novel 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great glimpse into how others see us. Starts a bit whiny, but at the end you cheering on Atlrthur and rooting for his every move.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Life is like crossing a lessian, azure blue sea. At first the view of what you are leaving behind is comforting; it is all there, still within easy reach. Not yet missed, very far from being mistaken for something that should have offered more. But as the nautical miles pass, what you've always known and loved begins to shrink from view. That land across the sea, that next that once drew you on like a carrot on the end of a bow sprit, now begins to terrorize. I deeply loved what I knew, it was dependable in its ability to warm my blues, to love me back. (As always, more to come.)
Davids3 7 months ago
Less is a very thin and senseless book. No style and generally trite writing. If this is a Pulitzer winner, then the Manhattan phone book, with a bit of editing, has a good shot at the Nobel. Amazing what passes as good writing these days.
miss_mesmerized 10 months ago
Arthur and Freddy have spent so many years together, but now, Freddy is going to marry somebody else. This already would be enough, but Arthur’s situation is even worse: he is about to turn fifty, thus, officially old. How to avoid the dreadful wedding and his birthday? The solution is close at hand: he accepts several invitations bringing him first to New York, then Mexico, afterwards across the ocean to Italy, Germany and Morocco before returning home via India and Japan. However, leaving behind your everyday life does not mean that your worries also stay at home. They follow Less around the word as constant companions at his side. Andrew Sean Greer had been quite successful with his short stories before he started writing novels. His sixth, “Less”, was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer prize for Fiction, after he had already received the California Book Award and the O. Henry Award among others for his works. It is hard to find words to adequately describe the novel. I simply adored it every minute. First of all, there is this extraordinary protagonist Arthur Less who is, in his own view, so plain, ordinary, normal and uninteresting and yet seems to fascinate everybody he meets, makes them fall in love with him instantly and puts a kind of spell on them they cannot escape. The reader also falls for him at once – albeit I cannot explain why this is exactly the case. It is surely not because he is outstandingly good-looking or especially witty, he seems to have some kind of charisma that attracts people. Second, the narrator. He seems to be acquainted with Less, even though he merely hints at when and how they met and what their relationship is like. Often he recedes and just tells the story, but now and again, he talks to the reader, comments and readjusts the reader’s perspective. Even though a lot of disasters happen to Less on his journey and despite the fact that the two major loves of his life are lost, his life isn’t too bad. Watching Less stumble through his journey, his anxiety about aging – his is 49, not 50! – his being mainly known for having spent years at the side of a successful writer while his own work did only find small recognition – all his little flaws make him even more likeable. His modesty, his shyness – he is not less, but much more. A wonderfully written novel, full of love and compassion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting story,told in a complex,intelligent,magical way that miraculously made sense as the story developed. One of the best books I have read in a while.
Anonymous 5 months ago
I need to read this again, because the first time was like meeting some one whom I might want to know better before making a final decision. Could this person and I be friends?
eak321 7 months ago
This is my first novel by Andrew Sean Greer, and I was a bit disappointed after all the hype and recommendations. I'm glad I read the book (and followed through with it to the end), but I expected so much more. LESS pulled out every gay stereotype and dumped them into one person: Arthur Less. He's tall, attractive, thin, a great dresser, an intellectualist, a writer, a world traveler, a partier...and not very good at monogamous relationships. The novel is told from the viewpoint of an unknown narrator who sounds like the narrator from a 1950s PSA or the narrator from the original Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon show, referring to Arthur Less as "our hero." Because it's told from the narrator's point of view, the novel is extremely descriptive with not a lot of (or enough) dialogue between the characters. Greer appears to be an impressive master of descriptive phrases, but it bogged down the pace of the novel for me. Ironically, the narrator rambles. I was hoping to be able to relate more to Arthur Less and his predicament of closing in on his 50th birthday and being invited to his ex-boyfriend's wedding, but there wasn't a lot to connect to. Arthur's world is very different from the typical gay man's. I did enjoy how Greer wrapped up the novel at the end, but I wish it didn't take so long to get there. I can see why this novel won the Pulitzer Prize. Like the Academy of Arts and Sciences who reward films about actors and acting with an Oscar, the Pulitzer gave the award to LESS because it's about an author and the things he does in the literary world to make appearances. It just seems to have limited appeal to the mainstream.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Arthur Less is a somewhat obscure novelist. He lives a lonely life in San Francisco. When Arthur receives a wedding invitation from the love of his life, he decides he needs a valid excuse not to attend the wedding. He decides on a whirlwind journey with stops in New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and finally ending in Japan. The indignities and absurdities that Arthur suffers are the heart of this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found it somewhat superficial. Narcissism is overwhelming.
Sophia-Rose1 More than 1 year ago
A bit of a surprise all things considered. The hero is a man approaching fifty years with trepidation and approaching the wedding date of his lover of nine years to another with something more than trepidation. So, instead of sitting at home to face the prospect of both, off he goes to see the world through a chain of invitations he meant to decline, but now... the reader is off on a world-wide experience with Arthur Less. When I say this book was a surprise, I meant that it was so much more than a down-hearted gay guy, who thinks he's hit his expiration date, roaming around the world. It dips back to reflect on his colorful past, distant and near, that led him to where he’s at in the present. His present day experiences and his reconciliation with his past start working on him as he contemplates his future. Yes, it was very introspective, but it was wry with bittersweet musings. And let’s not forget the humor that only international travel mishaps can bring. And in the end, Less came into his own and I was happy to be there to see it because, for much of the book, Less never sees himself the way others around him and the reader sees him. He's lived a grand, full life, but it takes a shifting of his world for him to finally see it. Now, the surprises were not so welcome when I first started reading. It was not exactly what I thought I was getting so that took some adjusting. The writer's style was another huge adjustment- it meanders, and in my copy, the dips into the past and the present are not delineated. A jump in time or narration thought can be from paragraph to paragraph so a few times I got twisted around. There is an omniscient narrator voice that will pop in mid-stream, too (that was a fun twist that I figured out and was happy to discover I was right). Less is what I call 'travel' fiction though it doesn't delve too deeply into the big sweeping sections of travel. I thought the author wove this part in organically so the reader had a good vista of Less' travel stops, but it was alongside the adventure. In summary, this turned out to be a book that I felt cozy with as I was there alongside Less for all his travels and epiphanies. It is one I would recommend, particularly if you enjoy 'travel' fiction, but also enjoy the protagonist who is introspective.
Anonymous 3 days ago
The best book I have read all year!
Anonymous 4 days ago
Ok reading
Anonymous 8 days ago
Kept me engaged. Was funny and true and, in the end, satisfying.
Daco 9 days ago
BRILLIANT!! I picked up a hard copy of this book at the bricks and mortar store after my husband recommended it to me. Let me say first, this book is now one of my all-time favorites. In fact, this is the type of book that I scour the book shelves looking for--it's just that good! I loved the ending so much I found myself crying uncontrollably. Hence, I couldn't recommend this book more highly. And, I'll be turning to more reads by this author. Greer executed the story in fabulous form. His gift of writing is exceptional and the story kept me turning the pages. We learn who Arthur Less as the themes of his past, his love interest, and his present journey are intertwined to complete the man and the story. It's poignant, funny, heartfelt, and insightful. Well done, Andrew!
Anonymous 26 days ago
Clever, frantic and unexpected. You can't help falling for his characters.
alexcan3 3 months ago
I am not sure about this novel. I might actually be at 3.5 stars. I liked the premise of the book - wanting to get away from a situation that you don't want to deal with (in an extravagant way) and wanting to be away when you deal with your 50th birthday. I liked the structure of the book with each travel destination its own, distinct chapter. I thought Less was okay; I neither liked nor disliked him. Toward the end, I wanted him to find happiness. I thought the end was very expected, though. There was no surprise, for me, and I think that was true 50 pages prior to the last one. All of the reviews on the book jacket talked about how funny Less (the novel) is. I did not have that experience. The only time I laughed was when Less struggled with the German language. I don't think I will recommend this to others, with the exception of maybe wanting to hear a friend's opinion of this Pulitzer Prize winner.
ShawnSorensen43 6 months ago
A Warm and Witty Book on the Pitfalls of the Past I was amazed at the pace and tenderness of the book. We have different points of view woven throughout, the past sticking its head quickly in and out of the window from time to time, paragraph to paragraph, and our 'hero', Arthur Less. on a wild ride around the world to get away from the fact that the love of his life is marrying someone else. Seven stops on his itinerary, six of them other countries. Less may head down the wrong airport tunnel, may lose his suitcase, may have his clothes stolen by four-legged creatures, but he never forgets to bring along his memories - his two big ex-loves, a well-meaning father who didn't accept or understand him, a dwindling literary career. Or so he thinks. Everywhere he goes, people open doors, are happy to see him. If only they knew how conflicted he was inside, how locked in his own mental room. The book is as funny and fun as it is introspective. Less may be weighed down by his past, but he is childishly unassuming, a trait I have been lucky to find in several adults. Anyone who can plan an international trip this outlandish needs to give more of himself to the world. His feet move more quickly than his heart, but the rambling road is bound to end somewhere good. He has seen and done too much - and too many people - to not know what he really wants in the end.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I enjoyed it very much. Beautifully written.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Less by Andrew Sean Greer "Arthur Less is the first homosexual ever to grow old...He has never seen another gay man age past fifty, none except Robert. He met them all at forty or so but never saw them make it much beyond; they died of AIDS, that generation. Less' generation often feels like the first to explore the land beyond fifty." (p. 34) Arthur Less has had two long term relationships. One with Robert Brownburn -- a much older man, Pulitzer Prize winning poet, and friend. It ended with a mutual break after nine years. The second relationship was with Federico (Freddy) Pelu, a younger man who also lasted nine years. After a few decades, and just as less is turning the big five - O, Freddy invites him to his wedding. Less can't say yes -- too painful -- but saying no would be a defeat. So Less signs up for a world tour to forget. Here is the existential dilemma faced by Less: Now that he is old, what to do about love. His tour takes him to New York City, to Turin, to Berlin, to o Paris, to India, Japan, and back to San Francisco. On his around the world tour, he discovers that perhaps it's better to forget about love and get fat (p. 173 - 4). I read the book because of the New York Times review which called it: "Less is the funniest, smartest and most humane novel I've read since Tom Rachman's 2010 debut, The Imperfectionists..." However, I was quite disappointed. I never laughed! The book is narrated from a first person point of view narrator, intercepted by universal points of view and third person points of view. It's chaotic. It also goes from the present to the past, back to the present. Not only is the writing chaotic, but the characters are caricatures, two dimensional, and flighty. Did not feel sympathy for any of them. Which is bad, because the theme of the aging LGBT population is one that will be getting more attention, now that most of us are aging for the first time since the AIDS epidemic.
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
Milestone birthdays are hard, but turning fifty for Arthur Less is especially difficult. So what does he do? He plans a multi-nation journey, not to celebrate, but to escape. His former lover is getting married, and he’s trying to run away from the heartbreak of it all. Less is a good-looking, charming fellow, but he’s a real mess. This is a beautifully rendered, gorgeous love story. The author, Andrew Sean Greer, is a very talented writer. His prose is smart and elegant. I was most impressed with his metaphors. They really are splendid. For most of the book, the narrator’s identity is unknown. I had my suspicions, and they were confirmed on the last few pages. An excellent read, I even thought it was ingenious the way he used the main character’s name in a clever play-on-words
Anonymous 9 months ago
Should have been authorless
Anonymous 8 months ago
There I’ve summed it all up!