February 18, 2019

Book Review: Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Less by Andrew Sean Greer, as everyone would have heard of it by now, a satirical comedy which has won the Pulitzer prize. Coincidentally, it was picked by the book club I am a member of, as the first book for 2019. I am not the usual Pulitzer reader, and in fact i stay away from them from fear of not understanding the essence of a story without repeated back and forth! And, in this regard, I must add, this was a pleasant surprise. I could pick it up, read and get back to it on the go making it a perfect weekday read.

A not so great author, being pushed to take up many engagements, all against his will. But, a path he must walk down because his love is walking down another path with another man. It seems that there is so much going on in his head, so much to complain about and look back upon. As I look back it is one my first books where the protagonist is a homosexual, but that is not one of the highlights of the book. There is very little which is specifically around his orientation, it is more of his mind and the thoughts that run through. His continuous urge to get away from and keep no contact with anyone who can possibly give him information of the fated marriage of his love is the primary focus.

As I read the book, there were many instances when I related strongly with the protagonist. He questions the very essence of relationships, much like how I wonder how marriage functions as a practice. How is it feasible that two every evolving pieces stick around together for years. 10 years seem to a good enough time, but beyond that seems very questionable. This has been my vice with marriages also, but sadly this isn't something I thought through before. This 10 year ideology made perfect sense for me and helped me see how human beings change through time. And changing people mean they need not change in an ever aligned manner, but as different beings, completely moving away from each other. Very pertinent questions!

The writing style was one which I did find difficult to follow, not very frequently though. At times with the quick period jumps, it left the reader scrambling to get the pieces connected. One minute you are in a house party somewhere in Paris, and the next minute you are far back in your house trying to figure out why your current marriage is not going to work. We move through a marriage, cheating, spending time by oneself, not speaking of feelings and then regretting all that not expressing.

But at the end of the book, a happy ending was not what I was looking for. It felt too perfect and one which I was not too happy about. And that alone would be the reason why I would not rate it a perfect five!

Rating: 4 /5