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Review: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Title: Less
Author: Andrew Sean Greer
Year Published: 2017

Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 261
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)USA, Mexico, France, Germany, Italy, India, Morocco, Japan

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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 invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

Question: How do you arrange to skip town?

Answer: You accept them all.

What could possibly go wrong? Thus begins an around-the-world-in-eighty-days fantasia that will take the novelist Arthur Less to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan and put thousands of miles between him and the plight he refuses to face.

Review: I have a horrible confession: I don't think I've ever (consciously) read a Pulitzer Prize novel before. Have I? I don't think so. And I didn't really look carefully enough at this one to realize until about half way through that it won. Apparently I need to pay more attention to the books BEFORE I read them. :-)

Poor Arthur. He is so at a loss for what he wants to do with his life, where he wants to be, and with whom he wants to spend his time. And many of those decisions seem out of his control even though they shouldn't be. And he's turning 50. And feeling old. I get it, I'm 53, but I also feel as if I've got (almost) another lifetime in me if all goes well.

I also feel as if Arthur's friends, lovers, and the people he meets are all jollying him along. His trip around the world is obviously him running away from Freddy's wedding, but it is also so much more. He's running away from everything without really escaping anything.

There is humor and sadness in Arthur's story and it mostly worked for me. I wanted Arthur to take more control of his life and his decisions, to be okay with who he is right now. I guess that's a good lesson for all of us.

Update: thank you to Anne from My Head is Full of Books for her Pulitzer list. It turns out I have unwittingly read a number of Pulitzer Prize winning books. The odd thing is that these are (mostly) not books that I've loved:

  • Old Man in the Sea
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Angle of Repose
  • Color Purple
  • Beloved
  • The Things They Carried
  • A Thousand Acres (one of my favorites)
  • Stone Diaries (another favorite)
  • Shipping News
  • Empire Falls
  • A Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao (liked this one)
  • Olive Kittridge (liked this one even though I didn't like Oliver herself)
  • All the Light We Cannot See--currently sitting on my TBR shelf
  • The Underground Railroad--currently sitting on my TBR shelf

Challenges for which this counts: 

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