“Less” Makes a Strong Case for Running Away From Your Problems (Book Club Pick)

Here at Pressboard, we believe in few things more than the power of a great story. Stories inspire us, galvanize us and move us to tears. They change the way that we view a particular issue or society as a whole. But most importantly, they bring us together.

This passion for storytelling is what originally inspired us to design a platform that allows brands and publishers to connect and craft outstanding content together; now, it’s the driving force behind our book club, which delivers our favourite reads — fiction, non-fiction and everything in between — to your inbox every month. Allow us to introduce our pick for February 2019: Andrew Sean Greer’s Less.

Less breathes new life into the often played out ‘American abroad’ story.

Arthur Less is a (failing) writer about to turn fifty. When his former lover’s wedding day rolls around, he finds the perfect way to avoid it: attending every literary event around the world that he has ever been invited to. Who says you can’t run away from your problems?

Greer’s sixth book, Less, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2018.

Arthur is a character I found myself pitying for much of the book. There’s a sadness to the way he reflects on his life and his regrets, specifically in the trials of love. It’s an impressive feat on Greer’s part to cause readers to pity a man on an incredible trip around the world — plus, as Arthur’s editor points out, “it’s hard to feel bad for a middle-aged white man.”

More often than pitying Arthur, however, I found myself laughing out loud at his antics; particularly in Berlin, where he’s far more confident in his ability to speak German than the locals seem to be. Another one of my favourite moments in the book happens when Arthur is in the Sahara Desert on the eve of his fiftieth birthday, which is captured in this charming quote:

“Strange to be almost fifty, no? I feel like I just understood how to be young.”

“Yes! It’s like the last day in a foreign country. You finally figure out where to get coffee, and drinks, and a good steak. And then you have to leave. And you won’t ever be back.”

The novel’s protagonist travels the world as his 50th birthday looms.

This quick read will take you on an emotional rollercoaster, filling your senses with the sights and sounds of each climb and drop. Above all else, Less is a story about a love of people, places and writing that leaves you wanting more. If this hasn’t been made into a movie in the next five years, I’ll be shocked — its thrilling plot and empathetic main character were made for the screen.

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