A Novel

Book - 2018
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A struggling novelist travels the world to avoid an awkward wedding in this hilarious Pulitzer Prize-winning novel full of "arresting lyricism and beauty" ( New York Times Book Review).

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

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

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

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.

Publisher: New York : Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2018, c2017
Edition: 1st Back Bay Books trade pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780316316132
Branch Call Number: GRE
Characteristics: 261 p. ;,21 cm


From the critics

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Aug 28, 2019

This is one of the best stories I've read in a while, it's fairly short and moves very quickly. I usually read YA but this was a great book with an older protagonist. The author has a flair for language, and it's funny to see Arthur stumble through these awkward and unusual situations.

sjpl_DanaLibrariana Aug 26, 2019

I read this book thinking it would be a great travel read and it didn't disappoint. I became invested in the main character, Arthur Less, and appreciated his trials and tribulations as he traveled to various locations. The book has some humor, some sorrow and some romance.

Jul 10, 2019

I had finished "Overstory" another Pulitzer prized winner and was greatly disappointed and thought I might just stop reading anything that won the Pulitzer. Thank goodness I gave this book a go. I thoroughly enjoyed "Arthur Less." What a wonderful character that I could totally relate to. It's just a fun read!

May 18, 2019

This is the coming-of-middle-age story of Arthur Less, middling novelist, "bad gay," and lovelorn single man. His one-true-love is marrying another after he pushed him away, so Less embarks on a world tour to miss the wedding and spend his 50th birthday alone. Less is gentle, smart, often hapless, and on a mission to become More. This dreamy, ruminative novel succeeds as a character study and a travelogue. The writing is lovely and sly and observant. And Less/Greer believe in the virtue of happiness and the possibility of love; balms in the stress of a reader's real life. My gratitude for the perfect ending.

May 13, 2019

Like any curious writer, I occasionally read the award-winning books of the Pulitzer and Booker variety. I also watch award-winning movies (Oscars, Golden Globes, etc.) and listen to award-winning albums (Grammys, Pulitzer, et al.). I like to see what all the hub-bub is about and judge for myself. I really wanted to love Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It’s classified as humorous (awesome) literary (even better) fiction. That’s my wheelhouse (disclaimer: I also write humorous literary fiction). Unfortunately, I didn’t love it. Sad, I know.

Published book blurb for Less: 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. How do you arrange to skip town? You accept them all.

This is the setup to how Arthur Less avoids suffering and humiliation. He escapes. And this is what Greer uses to setup a series of comedic situations to drop author Arthur Less into. Some are amusing. Arthur believes he’s fluent in German (he’s not) while staying in Germany. His translated books are brilliant overseas (they’re not. Maybe artfully translated). Comedic (?) foibles unfold. Arthur flies around the world, takes pills, hops in the sack(s) with various assistants and travel companions. He ruminates about past transgressions. Or does he since the book is narrated by someone else? This someone’s identity is the novel’s big reveal. Don’t worry; I won’t spoil it.

I found the character of Less to be annoying and unlikeable. I know there are readers that are attracted to this type of hot-mess, Peter Pan-esque, worried about aging / too vain for their own good character. I guess I'm not one of them. The narrator is fascinated with Arthur Less, infatuated even, the same way a pet owner is in love with their scrappy dog that pees on the rug while they claim it to be the cutest dog in the world. It’s not; it’s a dog that pees on the rug.

There is an airy, whimsical quality to Greer’s writing. It goes down like a fresh-baked croissant does with an espresso while sitting on the patio of a French bistro. But there is also a shallowness that is cloying. It’s lack of plot is unfortunate. And I kept thinking: What is so great about Arthur Less? More so, what is so great about Less? There is no accounting for the taste of the Pulitzer judges, I guess.

In the book, there is a passage where Arthur’s old flame, Robert, actually wins the Pulitzer Prize (just like Andrew Sean Greer did?!), then a mutual friend of theirs explains:

“Prizes aren’t love. Because people who never met you can’t love you. The slots for winners are already set, from here until Judgment Day. They know the kind of poet who’s going to win, and if you happen to fit the slot, then bully for you! It’s like fitting a hand-me-down suit. It’s luck, not love. Not that it isn’t nice to have luck... "

I guess this novel had the luck this time. It must have been awkward for Greer to receive the Pulitzer after writing such a passage. Right? Probably not. He won the prize anyway. Bully for him.

Apr 20, 2019

I loved his novel, Max Tivoli , so I was very disappointed, to say the least, with this Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Neither my wife nor I could get into it, and we both gave up after reading the first third. This is definitely not a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

Apr 19, 2019

The story of a middle-aged, gay, minor author who becomes somewhat self-aware at age 50. Somewhat humorous but very lightweight. This fantasy novel is perfectly described by its title - "Less" indeed.

Apr 12, 2019

Meh. Fine example of fiction by and for privileged sophisticates who can congratulate themselves on how clever they are. Who cares?

Apr 02, 2019

A Pulitzer? Really? This is a weak travelogue/romance novel, light summer reading at best. Inconceivable how it could have won such accolades. The main character is uninspired and uninspiring, making a series of sexual conquests in exotic places. Perhaps the author thought that repeating this dreary theme with a gay male protagonist would enliven it. Evidently the critics agreed, but I do not. Shallow, uninventive, predictable and ultimately unimportant. Less is less.

IndyPL_AdamT Mar 19, 2019

This book won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, so I'm not sure how much I can add in terms of praise. However, I'd like to report that Less was an absolute joy to read. It is heartfelt and engaging. Also, in my opinion, it is the funniest book to win the Fiction Pulitzer since A Confederacy of Dunces.

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Jul 25, 2017

samrouthier thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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