Author: Andrew Sean Greer
Date Read: June 25, 2021
Less was reccommended by my friend, Bonnie Creber. It was the perfect, lighthearted way to begin enjoying summer break. There were a few things appealing about this story– Arthur Less is a failed novelist who is trepidatiously celebrating his fiftieth. A wedding invitation to attend his ex-boyfriend’s nuptials has him seriously reflecting on his life, decisions, and ultimately moves him to try something bold. What ensues is a madcap tour around the world (feverishly accepting all of the piled-up invitaions and cobbling them in to a grand voyage). It is slightly silly, and then full of sadness and longing. It is written beautifully (it won a Pulitzer).
There is no Arthur Less without the suit. Bought on a whim, in that brief era of caprice three years ago when he threw caution (and money) to the wind and flew to Ho Chi Minh City to visit a friend on a work trip, searching for air-conditioning in that humid, moped-plagued city, found himself in a tailor shop, ordering a suit. Drunk on car exchaust and sugarcane, he made a series of rash decidions, gave his home address, and by the next morning had forgotten all about it. Two weeks later, a package arrived in San Fransisco. Perplexed, he opened it and pulled out a medium blue suit, lined in fuschia, and sewn with his initials: APL. A rose-water smell from the box summoned, instantly, a dictatorial woman with a tight bun, hectoring him with questions. The cut, the buttons, the pockets, the collar. But most of all: the blue. Chosen in haste from a wall of fabrics: not an ordinary blue. Peacock? Lapis? Nothing gets close. Medium but vivid, moderately lustrous, definitely bold. Somewhere between ultramarine and cyanide salts, between Vishnu and Amon, Israel and Greece, the logos of Pepsi and Ford. In a word: bright. He loved whatever self had chosen it and after that wore it constantly. Even Freddy approved: "You look like someone famous!" And he does. Finally, at his advanced age, he has struck the right note. He looks good, and he looks like himself. Without it, somehow he does not. Without the suit, there is no Arthur Less. (Greer, p. 25).