Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 359
Less, the 2017 satirical novel by Andrew Greer, is about the fictional gay writer Arthur Less. Greer tells us the story of Arthur Less as he travels the world on a literary tour, a tour framed by his rapidly approaching fiftieth birthday.
One important quote is from the very beginning of the book as Greer establishes the narrative voice for the novel.
From where I sit, the story of Arthur Less is not so bad.
Greer’s use of first-person narration allows the reader to understand the connection between the author and his character. The reader is allowed to see the author in the narrator, just as the narrator sees himself in the character of Less.
Look at him: seated primly on the hotel lobby's plush round sofa, blue suit and white shirt, legs knee-crossed so that one polished loafer hangs free of its heel. The pose of a young man. His slim shadow is, in fact, still that of his younger self, but at nearly fifty he is like those bronze statues in public parks that, despite one lucky knee rubbed raw by schoolchildren, discolor beautifully until they match the trees.
Within this quote Greer first introduces the reader to the character Less. The description is full of vivid descriptions that the idea that Less is approaching fifty is almost hidden. The uncomfortable reality of turning fifty is a reoccurring idea throughout the novel. This idea pops up in unusual places such as in the description of one of Less’s former lovers.
There was the history professor at UC-Davis who would drive two hours to take Less to the theater. Bald, red bearded, sparkling eyes and wit; it was a pleasure, for a while, to be a grown-up with another grown-up, to share a phase of life—early forties—and laugh about their fear of fifty.
Less, the narrator, and Greer are all aware of the difficulties in getting older. Greer like Less can laugh at the “fear of fifty.”
Greer’s novel Less is one that approaches serious topics of love, and aging in such a humorous way that it makes these themes more genuine and sincere.
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