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Saturday, May 05, 2018

Less (2017) by Andrew Sean Greer


Book Review
Less (2017)
 by Andrew Sean Greer
Published July 17th, 2017
Lee Boudreaux Books

   I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had to look up Andrew Sean Greer when Less, his fifth novel, won the the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last month.   I picked up the win early enough that I was able to snag the pre-win library copy within a month.  When I picked the book up from the library, I was surprised to see a quote from Armstead Maupin on the cover.  Perhaps Maupin sells books, but he's not really a prize winner type.  Reading the plot summary on the back flap: Aging novelist, well regarded but not popular, struggles with the end of a lengthy affair with a younger man and his approaching 50th birthday by patching together a world tour of speaking engagements, culminating in a camel caravan in the Moroccan desert; I thought to myself- sounds kind of light for a Pulitzer Prize in Fiction winner.

  Then I actually read the book, and I can see where the Pulitzer committee was coming from. As Arthur Less, the narrator and protagonist reflects, the generation of Gay artists that came before him was essentially wiped out by AIDS.    Part of the benefit of wining the Pulitzer Prize in Literature is that you don't have to convince an audience to read your book, they'll just read it because it won the award.  That's great news for Less, and for Greer, who is no doubt is now receiving the type of attention that can't help but expand his audience.   As Less himself himself points out- or rather- has pointed out to him by a variety of different character in the book- the plight of a lonelyish, poorish, highly cultured gay man living in late 20th century San Francisco is not a particularly sympathetic plight.  It's not particularly, as they on the internet, relatable.

  I'd probably actually buy an earlier novel by Greer if I saw it at a bookstore. Less seems like the kind of book that will be adapted for film or screen but I could see a very bad version.
  

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