Reviews for Less

by Andrew Sean Greer

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This hilarious and touching novel follows Arthur Less, a gay man, as he travels around the world in order to avoid attending the wedding of his former lover. The wedding invitation was the final realization for Arthur that he never should have broken up with Freddy, and as Arthur's 50th birthday approaches, he realizes he may be alone forever. Arthur is a novelist, and although his publisher turned down his latest work, he is engaged in literary activities such as receiving an award, speaking at a conference, and teaching writing in such locations as New York City, Mexico, and Germany. He also travels to Morocco and rides a camel out into the desert. All along the way, there are wacky scenes of wrong directions taken, comic misunderstandings, and language barriers left standing. VERDICT Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli; The Impossible Life of Greta Wells) is both clever and compassionate as he steers Arthur through this rough period in his life, and while the book focuses on gay men and their relationships, the search for love and meaning is universal. [See Prepub Alert, 1/28/17.]-James Coan, SUNY at Oneonta Lib. © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

In Greer's wistful new novel, a middle-aged writer accepts literary invitations around the world-making his way from San Francisco to New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India, and Japan-so that he will have an excuse not to attend the wedding of a long-time lover. Arthur Less is not known primarily for his own work but for his lengthy romantic association with a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, an older man who was married to a woman when their liaison began, and he believes himself to be the butt of many cosmic jokes and that he is "less than" in most equations. This is partially proven true, but not entirely. And even in Less's mediocrity, when aided by a certain amount of serendipity (and displayed by the author with ironic humor), he affects people. Greer (The Confessions of Max Tivoli), an O'Henry-winning author, writes beautifully, but his occasionally Faulknerian sentences are unnecessary. He is entirely successful, though, in the authorial sleights of hand that make the narrator fade into the background-only to have an identity revealed at the end in a wonderful surprise. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* While such luminaries as Michael Chabon, Dave Eggers, and John Irving have praised Greer's previous novels, including The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells (2013), Less is perhaps his finest yet. It follows Arthur Less, a novelist whose longtime boyfriend is getting married. In order to avoid the ceremony, Less accepts invitations to all the literary events he has been invited to. The subsequent tale moves across not only space from San Francisco to New York, Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, India, and Japan but also time, as Less looks back at his life as he approaches his fiftieth birthday. Once on the periphery of an artistic movement, the Russian River School, and involved with one of the founders, Less now exploits this connection to enable his journey.Through numerous flashbacks, Greer signals his debt to Proust (something he shares with Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, 2010) and paints a comic yet moving picture of an American abroad. As Greer explores Less' lovelorn memories, he also playfully mocks the often ludicrous nature of the publishing industry, as does Percival Everett in his acerbic Erasure (2001). Less is a wondrous achievement, deserving an even larger audience than Greer's best-selling The Confessions of Max Tivoli (2004).--Moran, Alexander Copyright 2010 Booklist


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Arthur Less is, well...considerably less, now that he's middle-aged, alone, and pretty much broke. The pinnacle of his novel-writing career might have been his first New York Times review, which while "good" assigned him an epithet that would haunt (taunt?) him in the decades since: "magniloquent spoony." His partner at the time, an older, revered Pulitzer-winning poet, had to explain: "Arthur.he's just calling you a faggot." Well, then. Now that he's about to turn 50, Arthur decides he can't witness the nuptials of his (still adored) younger lover and avoids the event by piecing together an around-the-world "ramshackle itinerary" of book-related gigs and a short teaching stint. Of course, transformations prove inevitable. Narrator Robert Petkoff takes Arthur's journeys in well-synced stride, adapting easily-for the most part-among countries and languages, although he occasionally stumbles in Asia with Hindi (dhoti becomes dotty) and Japanese (ryokan gets an extra syllable with ri-yoh-kan). Minor quibbles aside, Petkoff exudes Arthur's irresistibility-a combination of still-boyish naïveté, distracted haplessness, aging disappointment, and unassuming charm. VERDICT Surely Greer's Pulitzer boost has escalated demand; multiplatform accessibility seems a must for all libraries. ["Greer is both clever and compassionate...and while the book focuses on gay men and their relationships, the search for love and meaning is universal": LJ 6/15/17 starred review of the Little, Brown hc.]-Terry Hong, -Smithsonian BookDragon, -Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Facing his erstwhile boyfriend's wedding to another man, his 50th birthday, and his publisher's rejection of his latest manuscript, a miserable midlist novelist heads for the airport.When it comes to the literary canon, Arthur Less knows he is "as superfluous as the extra a in quaalude," but he does get the odd invitationto interview a more successful author, to receive an obscure prize, to tour French provincial libraries, that sort of thing. So rather than stay in San Francisco and be humiliated when his younger man of nine years' standing marries someone else (he can't bear to attend, nor can he bear to stay home), he puts together a patchwork busman's holiday that will take him to Paris, Morocco, Berlin, Southern India, and Japan. Of course, anything that can go wrong doesfrom falling out a window to having his favorite suit eaten by a stray dog, and as far as Less runs, he will not escape the fact that he really did lose the love of his life. Meanwhile, there's no way to stop that dreaded birthday, which he sees as the definitive end of a rather extended youth: "It's like the last day in a foreign country. You finally figure out where to get coffee, and drinks, and a good steak. And then you have to leave. And you won't ever be back." Yet even this conversation occurs in the midst of a make-out session with a handsome Spanish stranger on a balcony at a party in Parishinting that there may be steaks and coffee on the other side. Upping the tension of this literary picaresque is the fact that the story is told by a mysterious narrator whose identity and role in Less' future is not revealed until the final pages. Seasoned novelist Greer (The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, 2013, etc.) clearly knows whereof he speaks and has lived to joke about it. Nonstop puns on the character's surname aside, this is a very funny and occasionally wise book. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Back