Less by Andrew Sean Greer [in Library Journal]
Arthur Less is, well … considerably less, now that he’s middle-aged, alone, and pretty much broke. The pinnacle of his novel-writing career might have been his first New York Times review, which while “good,” assigned him an epithet that would haunt (taunt?) him in the decades since: “magniloquent spoony.” His partner at the time, an older, revered Pulitzer-winning poet, had to explain: “Arthur … he’s just calling you a faggot.” Well, then.
Now that he’s about to turn 50, Arthur decides he can’t witness the nuptials of his (still adored) younger lover and avoids the event by piecing together an around-the-world “ramshackle itinerary” of book-related gigs and a short teaching stint. Of course, transformations prove inevitable.
Narrator Robert Petkoff takes Arthur’s journeys in well-synced stride, adapting easily – for the most part – among countries and languages, although he occasionally stumbles in Asia with Hindi (dhoti becomes dotty) and Japanese (ryokan gets an extra syllable with ri-yoh-kan). Minor quibbles aside, Petkoff exudes Arthur’s irresistibility – a combination of still-boyish naïveté, distracted haplessness, aging disappointment, and unassuming charm.
Verdict: Surely Greer’s Pulitzer boost has escalated demand; multiplatform accessibility seems a must for all libraries.