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Fixed on Fiction


In August, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

Who says you can't run away from your problems?
You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?
ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.
Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.
A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as "inspired, lyrical," "elegiac," "ingenious," as well as "too sappy by half," LESS shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

-Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

We had a lively discussion with five thumbs-up votes, 1 so-so, and two thumbs down. Here are some of the initial comments readers made when discussing their reaction to Less-

  • Thumbs up! Best book we’ve read in a long time. Sad but poignant moments.
  • Loved the witty writing. Great word play.
  • Did not finish. Skimmed more than I was actually reading.
  • I didn’t like it but it’s hard to say why. I just didn’t care about Arthur. There was no hook to grab my interest.
  • I liked it! I loved all of the travel descriptions.
  • I liked it. Especially the second half. Loved the descriptions of travel.
  • So-so. It was funny, but I really didn’t care what happened to him. I wasn’t invested.

And two readers shared their thoughts via email-

  •  I would give Less a thumbs up. It was a nice change of pace from other recent novels. I didn’t find it LOL funny but got some chuckles from it. Less reminded me a bit of Voltaire’s Candide. I liked the writing—found it witty and original.
  • I loved the book!  It was both funny and poignant.  Greer is a great writer and reminded me of Michael Chabon with the richness of his descriptions and unorthodox settings. I did guess who the narrator was from fairly close to the beginning--although I wasn't sure if Arthur and Freddy would get back together in the end.

These are just a few comments shared during our discussion. Feel free to share additional thoughts on Less in the comments section below.

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