Book Review – Less

Written by Keira Geary

The 2017 novel, Less, was written by Andrew Sean Greer. Winner of the 2018, Putlitzer Prize, The New York Times has hailed this book as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” and “ingenious.” Less has been widely praised for its mixture of humor and emotion, and for its lyrical descriptions that accompany the protagonist as he embarks on a rollercoaster of a world tour. The adventures of the main character bring a comic relief and a satirical look at growing older, the pains of heartbreak, the struggles of an author, and the abasements and surprises that come from traveling internationally 

Less opens with the introduction of the main protagonist, Arthur Less, a failed novelist about to turn fifty. Arthur begins in a state of comic despair, as his life seems to unravel before him. He finds himself faced with the wedding invitation of his ex-partner. He can’t say yes, because that would be too awkward; but he can’t say no as that would look like defeat. In order to look like he’s unavailable to attend the wedding, Arthur decides to pull out a series of invitations to literary events around the world, and piece together an excursion long enough to miss both his birthday and the wedding.  

It is at this point that the novel takes a more episodic picaresque. Arthur Less travels the world, encountering bizarre and surprising customs and people, and allows for Greer to mock the types of events that aspiring writers must attend.