Less by Andrew Sean Greer sparked controversies and mixed reactions when it won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Some reviewers were harsh in their conclusion that the book won the prestigious prize because of white male privilege, while other reviews believed that it was a well-deserved win because of the poetic flow of its narration.
But controversies aside, this article will be my personal opinion about the book, which I intend to be as objective as possible.
If there is one thing that makes Less by Andrew Sean Greer deserving of the Pulitzer Prize it won, it is the style. The novel is so lyrical. Literary devices flow so seamlessly that one may be deceived into thinking it was an effortless piece of writing.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer is prose that reads beautifully like a poem and conjures dramatic scenes in a reader’s mind. There is no gainsaying the creativity showcased in the novel. It easily rates a five out of five stars for me.
The plot is a lighthearted plot that should make one laugh all through. But I would not give full marks when it comes to the plot because of the way the writer tries to make trivial issues appear so serious as if urging readers to feel sorry for the protagonist.
So, a lover you’ve been with is getting married to someone else? Yes, we understand that that hurts. But come on! Why are you making it look like a tragic natural disaster for the protagonist when he agreed with his lover that it was just casual sex all the while? And hey, Arthur Less, do you realize that you’re actually among the elite few? I mean, how many other heartbroken people get to hop on a plane and enjoy all-expense paid trips to several choice destinations around the world? Like the character Zohra says, it’s hard to feel sorry for such a guy.
Structure of the Novel
The structure of Less is one of the things I love about the novel. First of all, it is not so voluminous, barely two hundred pages long, and can be read in a few hours. The length of a novel is one of the things that encourages people to pick it up to read, especially lazy readers or busy readers.
Another thing I love about the novel is the play on words in the title of each chapter. The novel has eight chapters and each chapter’s title is derived from the protagonist’s name Arthur Less. So the first chapter is titled ”Less At First”, the last chapter is ”Less at Last”, and the chapters in between are titled Less with the derivative noun of the country Arthur Less is visiting at the time. For instance, “Less Mexican”, “Less German”, “Less Moroccan”, “Less Indian”, etc.
Apart from the protagonist, Arthur Less, the characters in this novel are not well developed. The author leaves a lot to be desired in his portrayal of the characters in Less. For instance, the character Robert is one with an interesting story of sexuality. It would have made for a better read if he gave some details about how Robert got to be in a passionate heterosexual marriage at first and then come out as gay.
There are many scenes in the novel that are hilarious and will have readers laughing hard. The author’s ability to place the protagonist in awkward situations is an enjoyable read.
The only thing that prevents this novel from getting full marks for humor from every reader is that the humorous scenes are sometimes not depicted with clarity.
The most disappointing thing about Less by Andrew Sean Greer is that it takes readers to various countries around the world but ends up teaching readers so little about all those destinations. It did not showcase the exotic tourist attractions nor the educative everyday lives of people in these places.
A novel set in five continents, nine countries, and scores of cities, ended up being so bland in terms of travel enlightenment. Talk about unrealized potentials!
Review of Less
Less by Andrew Sean Greer Review: A Poetic Prose with Drama
The novel Less by Andrew Sean Greer is so wonderfully crafted. It won prestigious awards amidst mixed reactions and reviews. One of the best qualities of the novel is the writing style—it is lyrical, poetic, and enjoyable, and the humor is endearing too. But on the flip side, one thing that detracts from the novel is the forced sadness and gloominess over trivial issues, whilst the protagonist and the narrator become annoying at many points in the novel.
- Poetic Narration
- Inspirational Dialogues
- Endearing Protagonist
- Poorly-Explored Settings
- Undeveloped Characters