Once Upon A Book Club: Less by Andrew Sean Greer (4 out of 5)

I thought about reading this book for quite a while. Then I realized that since it is paperback, it would qualify for the Literature Bandits (most of my customers prefer hardcovers; my book club members want paperback). I also liked the fact that it had won The Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Some of the other ones I picked ended up on the New York Times bestseller list; others won literary awards. Some have been local author’s works; that one is evenly divided between love and extreme dislike. One never knows with the titles I pick for the Bandits. We were down a few ladies this month, and two of our regulars did not finish it, but those of us who did read it and enjoyed it. Still others have asked me about thoughts for whether it deserved to win that top honor. I’m not comfortable crowning that statement with a response without having read the other candidate(s). I did really enjoy it, once I straightened out the narrator. Don’t give up on this, dear reader. It is frustrating because of the way it is narrated, but at the end, it all becomes clear why it is the way it is.

“Less” was the second book in a row where the lead character had absolutely terrible luck. If you’re curious what that other book was, it was “The Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison. Our lead character, Arthur Less, is a struggling novelist about to turn fifty. He’s stuck in a big way until he receives a wedding invite in the mail; his former boyfriend of nine years is getting married. That gets him moving; all over the globe, answering invites that would have lay dormant otherwise, all the while reliving how he got to this place in life, and how things got to this crossroads. One thing’s for sure; Less has some screwy luck. Berlin almost brings him down (literally), he ends up the only writer at a Christian retreat in India, he almost gets waylaid from Morocco by a sandstorm, Paris brings more emotional baggage, and on the desert island in the Arabian Sea, stands the one person he really wanted to avoid. The first half of the book is strong, but in the second half, I felt like it lost something. I’m not even sure what that something is, however. I was still laughing out loud at various parts of the book! It just felt like some indefinable quality had lessened somehow and somewhere in between all of those destinations, current and past. It is a great book club pick, bringing out discussions about nostalgia, getting older, running from your problems- things most of us have done at one point or another. It is a charming story of love, loss, and that forgotten friend, hope. Greer has brought us MORE by bringing us “Less”. It’s out in paperback and available at your local independent bookstore.

~ by generationgbooks on October 12, 2018.

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