Andrew Sean Greer — who will read at Elliott Bay Book Co on Aug. 3 — takes an indulgent view of his hapless hero, as he pinpoints what it’s like to be a has-been writer who may not have a second act in him.
by Andrew Sean Greer
Lee Boudreaux Books/Little, Brown, 261 pp., $26
Aging author Arthur Less is on an odyssey around the world. His stops include Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, Morocco, India and Japan. As the former lover of poet Robert Brownburn — a key figure in “the famous Russian River School of writers and artists” — Arthur is in modest demand on the international symposium circuit. His own literary career, however, is foundering. His New York publisher has just turned down his latest novel. His love life is a shambles.
Arthur’s noncommittal nine-year affair with “dreamy, simple, lusty, bookish, harmless, youthful Freddy,” we learn, has drawn to a close after Freddy announces he’s found another man he wants to marry. Arthur is invited to the wedding, but prefers to flee his native San Francisco and celebrate his (much-dreaded) 50th birthday in more neutral territory overseas. As he moves from one humiliating mishap to another, he reflects on his life. What he sees is not encouraging.
“Less” is a picaresque novel in a whimsical vein, sometimes sharp and sometimes silly. Andrew Sean Greer (“The Confessions of Max Tivoli”) takes an indulgent view of his hapless hero, as he pinpoints what it’s like to be a has-been writer who may not have a second act in him. (Arthur has never topped his debut novel, “Kalipso” — a gay spin on the tale of Odysseus.)
Andrew Sean Greer
The author of “Less” will read at 7 p.m. Aug. 3 at Elliott Bay Book Co. (206-624-6600 or elliottbaybook.com).
The old friends Arthur meets on his travels and the new friends he makes are an amiable assortment of oddball types offering lively conversation. Topics range from the…