Hard to feel bad for a middle-aged white man.
Greer, Andrew Sean. Less: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018 (p. 194). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.
It’s hard to feel bad for a middle-aged white man, especially when he traveling the world to just escape a bad piece of news. However, you do end up feeling for Less. How he was loved and abused by so many people? A lot of his character was shaped by the people he met, as opposed to it being his nature. How they changed him and affected him deeply.
Most of the story is written as a constant ramble of thoughts, with various events filtering in and out. As someone who ends up doing this at times, it felt weird seeing this written down. How sometimes you are more in your head than ever enjoying what is happening around you? Let alone enjoy, even experiencing, or observing it?
There is this idea that people can have the best life that they can have, why don’t they enjoy it? Why aren’t they happy? Why do they still feel broken? We see this through Less’s book in the book Kalipso and the book itself, how both stories mimic each other in the fact that there is this guy who despite having everything is not happy!
How do you change through the years? How does love change you? We see Less being spoiled by Robert, the older lover he had. We see how staying with someone as “genius” as Robert has always shadowed him. This changes when Less starts seeing Freddy, the roles are reversed, where he is the older one and the smarter one.
There is also the idea that has been explored in the book about losing yourself, not knowing where the real you goes as you go through your life. You end up being a person who reacts to things that happened to you as opposed to being who you truly are. Also have different versions of yourself, different versions you show to different people. Sometimes getting boxed by them, because this is how they view you now. Do you change it and break their view, making them say that “you have changed” or go at odds with your character making you say “who are you?”.
When you live your life with someone for some years, they end up affecting every aspect of your life. Do you accept what had happened or hide everything that had happened? Experience things as you are experiencing them for the first time.
Marian, was it worth it for you?
Is damaging yourself for love worth it?
There are few passages in the book which I really love
Robert’s wife says this before Less goes ahead and steals Robert from her.
“You should be at the beach, like today. You should get stoned and drunk and have loads of sex.” She takes another drag off her cigarette. “I think the saddest thing in the world is a twenty-five-year-old talking about the stock market. Or taxes. Or real estate, goddamn it! That’s all you’ll talk about when you’re forty. Real estate! Any twenty-five-year-old who says the word refinance should be taken out and shot. Talk about love and music and poetry. Things everyone forgets they ever thought were important. Waste every day, that’s what I say.”
Greer, Andrew Sean. Less: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018 (pp. 69–70). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.
As much as I like this passage, I start thinking how impractical it is! Where is all the money going to come to finance all this!
A person in the book who has been married for 20 years breaks up and says this
“No! No, Arthur, no, it’s the opposite! I’m saying it’s a success. Twenty years of joy and support and friendship, that’s a success. Twenty years of anything with another person is a success. If a band stays together twenty years, it’s a miracle. If a comedy duo stays together twenty years, they’re a triumph. Is this night a failure because it will end in an hour? Is the sun a failure because it’s going to end in a billion years? No, it’s the fucking sun. Why does a marriage not count? Twenty years and one last happy road trip. And I thought, Well, that was nice. Let’s end on success.”
Greer, Andrew Sean. Less: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018 (pp. 181–182). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.
Maybe something ends does not always mean a bad thing? They were together for 20 years, that does amount to something!
Finally, about Zohra when her partner left her.
“She told me she met the love of her life,” Zohra says at last, still staring out the window. “You read poems about it, you hear stories about it, you hear Sicilians talk about being struck by lightning. We know there’s no love of your life. Love isn’t terrifying like that. It’s walking the fucking dog so the other one can sleep in, it’s doing taxes, it’s cleaning the bathroom without hard feelings. It’s having an ally in life. It’s not fire, it’s not lightning. It’s what she always had with me. Isn’t it? But what if she’s right, Arthur? What if the Sicilians are right? That it’s this earth-shattering thing she felt? Something I’ve never felt. Have you?”
Less begins to breathe unevenly.
She turns to him: “What if one day you meet someone, Arthur, and it feels like it could never be anyone else? Not because other people are less attractive, or drink too much, or have issues in bed, or have to alphabetize every fucking book or organize the dishwasher in some way you just can’t live with. It’s because they aren’t this person. This woman Janet met. Maybe you can go through your whole life and never meet them, and think love is all these other things, but if you do meet them, God help you! Because then: ka-blam! You’re screwed. The way Janet is. She ruined our life for it! But what if that’s real?” She is gripping the chair now.
Greer, Andrew Sean. Less: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018 (pp. 188–189). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.
Leaving you with another great quote from the book:
So many people will do. But once you’ve actually been in love, you can’t live with “will do”; it’s worse than living with yourself.
Greer, Andrew Sean. Less: Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2018 (p. 15). Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.
This is one of the very few media I have consumed which had a happy ending. Maybe, there can be little happy endings for some of us.
Absolutely loved this book.