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Book review: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

This book came highly recommended – my mum loved it and even though she had a copy of her own, she bought another one for me. Fortunately for our family harmony            , I loved it, too.

Arthur Less is the story of a writer who travels the world on a loosely strung together tour of writing-related engagements to avoid attending the wedding of his ex and his 50th birthday.

Chronically insecure, his tour of Mexico, France, Morocco, India and Japan is one of humour, usually brought on by the absurd situations in which Less finds himself.

As my mother said to me when she told me about the book, “I’m not the kind of person who laughs out loud when I’m reading, but if I was, I would have laughed all the time.”

I loved Andrew Sean Greer’s depiction of Less as a bumbling not-quite-famous author. But even more, I loved the poignant moments in which Less recognised where his love story with Freddy had gone wrong.

At one point, he remembers a time when he described Freddy as someone who didn’t need to be told to fasten his own oxygen mask before assisting others when on a flight.

In return, Freddy told Less that he was going to describe him as the bravest person he knew. When he remembered that exchange, Less said, “it ruined everything”.

Another moment that was hard to forget was the time Less lost his wedding ring, made a realisation about his doomed relationship as a result of the loss, and then found the ring again.

When he returned to the house he shared with a famous poet, he told the story, and saw immediately that the poet understood exactly what he had thought, but never spoken. This, Less realised, was what living with a genius was like.

Less is a joy and is well worth a second read to take in all of the brilliant passages, the pathos and the poignancy of life and love that it holds.

Read it and tell all of your friends to do the same, even if it means buying a new copy for them.

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Long time reader, and I haven’t yet commented, but I just had to with this review because I’m in the middle of Less and I love it – such a funny read. You’re right about that second read: so many brilliant lines and phrases. He has such a simple yet profound way of putting things!

    1. I absolutely agree with you about his simple yet profound way of putting things. I love books like this that are easy to read, but deceptively deep.

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