Here we are taking a turn, blog readers of the world! I told you literary reviews would happen soon enough and that time has come. And we’re starting off with a bang! Less by Andrew Sean Greer is this year’s Pulitzer (is it Puhl-itzer or Peuh-litzer?) Prize for Fiction. It tells the story of Arthur Less, a man approaching fifty when his on-again, off-again relationship of nine years finally ends. He decides to combat his loneliness by accepting several invitations that have been sitting in his inbox, including trips to France, Germany, and Morocco, to name a few.
I will admit that this book was not my favorite. For someone who’s trying to break into the publishing industry, it probably isn’t the best idea to criticize a nationally-ranked book on her silly little blog. But here I am. Some of the humor and references were a bit high-brow, bordering on pretentious. However, there are three things that I can appreciate about this book, which helped me to understand why Greer and this novel won the prize.
First of all, his ability to create a scene is fantastic. When Greer sets up his numerous party scenes, they all create a different image. My personal favorite was the dinner scene in Paris. So many different personalities interact with each other, and Less serves as mostly a silent observer, outside of his few conversations. I can imagine Less speaking with a friend on the balcony, overlooking the city in the evening, imagining what life could be like if their situations were different.
The second thing I enjoyed about Greer’s writing was his connection with his main character. Less is a writer as well, trying to start his newest novel from scratch. One of the things I disliked about Less at the beginning of the book was that I had no reason to root for him, other than that he was the main character. His motivation seemed to be fueled by running away from his life instead of trying to find a new one. However, his view on life and on his novel adjusts throughout the course of the book. I feel as though Less reflected Greer’s own life, as he changes the character to be more likable.
The final savior of this book is the last 5-10 pages. Seriously. I was kicking myself for not seeing these pages coming sooner than I did. It makes all of Less’s struggles and misadventures seem like they happened for a reason. Struggle is never necessarily a positive thing, but it feels much more gratifying when the tension it builds is finally released.
Between you, me, and the gaslight, it’s definitely worth a pick-up. (I know the phrase isn’t applicable to a book review, but cut me some slack here people, I’m trying to get a brand growing here.) While this book is slow to start, the gratification makes it worth the wait. Until next time, book lovers!