When Andrew Sean Greer’s followup to his Pulitzer winning “Less” hit the shelves last year, it fell into my Target shopping cart faster than a bag of Buy One, Get One Free Dark Chocolate covered Tru Fru raspberries. I loved “Less” and I love Arthur Less, the protagonist. I missed him. I was glad he was back.
And then he sat on top of my TBR bedside pile for ages — for no other reason than I just got busy and the slim novel kept getting larger, heavier ones placed on top of it.
With winter here and showing no signs of going anywhere soon (Thanks, Punxsutawney Phil), though, I can start peeling my way through the stack until I emerge from my season hermit-like behavior and go to the library or bookstore.
Arthur Less is the perfect best friend to keep you entertained until the sun comes out again.
Narrated by his true love Freddy Adu, Arthur Less, the most talented of lesser known novelists, once again has to hit the road to discover life’s true meaning. And make rent. His home, The Shack, he finds, is not really his and he owes his ex-lover’s estate a substantial amount of cash. Quickly accepting any novelist-ish assignment he can get, Arthur is tooling down south with a much more famous author, his dog, in a beat-up camper van —both looking for redemption in the least likely places.
And away he — and the book go — through sun drenched Southwestern vistas, souvenir stores, bayous, plantations, RV parks, “Station Eleven” like theatrical setups in the middle of nowhere and more than a handful of bars, where Arthur ponders his existence, his relationships and which drink to order so that he doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
Greer once again weaves a smart tale with a wickedly funny cast of characters — its cadence and structure is visually compelling to the point you can actually envision the Netflix adaptation. (I’m sticking with my original request for Clive Owen as Arthur.)
I hardly ever annotate books — I don’t know why, as I am often blown away by a sentence or thought and find myself thumbing through pages trying to find it again. Maybe I don’t want to ruin the experience for the next person to read it with my interpretation of the text. But I did use my super cool Ted Lasso magnetic book marker to mark a page so as not to forget this gem: “Because to love someone ridiculous is to understand something deep and true about the world. That up close it makes no sense. Those of you who choose sensible people may feel secure, but I think you water your wine; the wonder of life is in its small absurdities, so easily overlooked. And if you have not shared somebody’s tilted view of the horizon (which is the actual world), tell me: what have you really seen?”
Until next time, Arthur!