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Less

Written by: Andrew Sean Greer
Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
4 out of 5 stars (114 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 37.71
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Publisher's Summary

A breakout romantic comedy by the best-selling author of five critically acclaimed novels.

Who says you can't run away from your problems?

You are a failed novelist about to turn 50. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: Your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes - it would be too awkward - and you can't say no - it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

Question: How do you arrange to skip town?

Answer: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong?

Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: He will turn 50. Through it all there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings, and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author the New York Times has hailed as "inspired, lyrical", "elegiac", and "ingenious" as well as "too sappy by half", Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

©2017 Andrew Sean Greer (P)2017 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"Andrew Sean Greer is one of the most talented writers around, feeling and funny, with a genuinely fine prose style and a sensibility to match." (Michael Chabon)
"Andy Sean Greer writes with an intelligent joy that encompasses a truly kaleidoscopic vision, reminding me of the work of Peter Carey and David Mitchell. This novel is beautifully sewn together." (Colum McCann)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fun and smart

Fun, easy to listen to book, with many laughing moments. Loved the ending and was surprised by the identity of the narrator. Positive notes throughout most of the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I actually refunded my credit

I had gone about 2hours into this book and for some reasons did not want to continue it so I refunded my credit, but I still had it downloaded. I had finished my other audiobook and to kill time I ended up continuing this one. I
ended up loving it, laughing out loud at some parts and loving the side characters, it really took my imagination for a ride

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

wonderful to hear.

loved it! witty and enjoyable. The story is full, rich and satisfying. Loved the ending.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tee
  • 2019-01-22

Aging - perspective of a gay

This is a story about Arthur Less, a middle-aged homosexual whose long-time lover had just left him for another. Arthur wanted an excuse to miss the wedding of his former lover, and to do so he accepted invites to travel to several cities around the world. In his travels, he encountered people and chanced upon adventures (and misadventures), while recalling highs and lows of his life up to that point.

Many of the sentences in the book are skillfully constructed and clever. A situation or person might be painted with a series of deft or wry touches. This unhurried story-telling style perhaps mirrors Arthur’s fuzzy logic of navigating life and places. Each chapter is more or less standalone, and there isn’t really a build-up. One might be able to miss chunks in the middle without losing the storyline.

Overall it’s a good read. Many of the wry observations sprinkled through the book are gems. I find the one about book reviews downright delectable, and savoured it: “... every author can taste the poison another has slipped into his punch...etc” (but I won’t reveal more).

But in all honesty I cannot say that I take to Arthur, sweet and endearing as he was. I find him somewhat passive - just going along with whatever that came his way. The singular action which he took decisively was to travel during his ex’s wedding, and even for that the opportunity was presented to him by mere coincidence. I also wonder how he could face it all with such an even-keel acceptance. Compare him with Maurice (title character in Maurice by E.M. Forster) and one might see similarities, and deep differences.

The narrator did a good job. At times it felt like listening to the voice in Arthur’s head

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My favourite book in years!

I’ve listened to it twice and I’m sure I’ll listen again. I can’t recommend this book enough. A hopeless comedic romantic story about love. It’s hilarious and beautiful. Enjoy!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Utterly relateable

as a story about coping and realizing that seemingly unimportant choices we make in our youth can shape us in ways we never imagined. Brilliant! #Audible1

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • RS
  • 2018-09-16

Cleverly poignant

#Audible1 This is a funny, clever, quirky but poignant and heartwarming story about life passages and coming to terms with who you are and what is important. The author quickly draws you into the characters and story. The writing is skillful, clever in the best possible way. I could not wait to hear what would happen next to our protagonist, Less. I loved how surely-destined disaster situations turned around to be positive events, propelling him forward. It is a book that inspires hope, and reminds you to see the humorous side of life. I have recommended this book already, and it makes me want to read something else from this author. A strong narration makes this a book that was a pleasure to listen to.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Light yet wise

This was easy listening indeed! A timely story -for me- about memories, love and friendship, and growing older. Great fun! Wonderful performance from the narrator.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting but not a fan of the writing

The book is quite anti climatic and the writing felt a bit over the top

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Worth savouring

I found myself rewinding a lot so I can take it all in. The physical world of Less is far from my world but as a gay man about to turn fifty, I found myself relating to what's happening in his head. Greer has a way with words that can be biting, devastating, & funny - sometimes at the same time. Perfectly narrated as well.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Lili
  • 2017-07-30

Endearing, funny, but sometimes overly clever

Any additional comments?

Essentially a love story this novel has some sweet moments. But as an audio book it can be confusing. The protagonist is both traveling around the world, as well as constantly reviewing his life, and his loves, through the years, in his head.

One great love began in 1987 and lasts I believe 15 years. Another began 9 years ago and ends right before he begins his travels. At any given moment he may be reliving either of those relationships, or any of his many dalliances on the side. So if you listen to half of one of the hour plus long chapters one day, and the remainder of the chapter the next, you will find yourself trying to remember...where is he now? Who is he "talking" about?

The author also has bouts of very clever metaphors and wordplay. Which can be brilliant and paint a vivid image in your head, or sometimes he will come up with something and you will be like...what did he say? Is that a real word? So maybe audio isn't the best medium to enjoy this book, unless you are ok with the occasionally "rewind" here and there to get your bearings.

The main character takes awhile to warm up to, what with all his issues and quirks. One thing that really stands out though is the author's descriptive abilities to describe the world the main character is traveling through. Especially thru Morocco and India, those images will stay with me.

Overall the book was entertaining, clever, sometimes funny, sometimes quite touching. At other times it felt a bit over written, like the author was trying too hard. The professional narrator does an excellent job with all the characters, male and female, as well as various accents from Japanese to Italian.





110 of 114 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Katherine M. Hosch
  • Covington, LA USA
  • 2018-05-19

sigh

Ho boy - I must be in the minority here, but I don't get the hype about this book. I did keep thinking as I was listening, that it might be much better in print than via the spoken word. The chapters end abruptly in a way that might be amusing in print, but
not when narrated. The narrator is terrific - for some books I am sure. But not, in my opinion, for this one. He was just too calm and comforting, and made Arthur Less's foibles seem like so much simple bad judgement. I think this book needed someone a lot more manic and maybe a bit hysterical.

Honestly, I was so eager to get this book - the last comedic novel to win the Pulitzer was the incomparable Confederacy of Dunces. How is this thinly veiled autobiography (I could be wrong about this of course!) in the same league? In the end I was simply bored with Less's acute self-involvement and ridiculous preoccupation with aging. I am happy for the author but I really don't agree with the Pulitzer committee here.

If only Less were not so deserving of its title.

57 of 61 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Brenda
  • 2018-05-05

Less is Definately NOT More

This has got to be one of the most boring books I've had the displeasure of forcing myself to listen to until the very end.
I found myself wondering when it was going to become funny! Sadly never did and I could not make a connection to any of the characters. They were flat. The story was flat and I was left flat.
I am Less for having purchased this inane book based on ratings.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Heather M.
  • NC
  • 2018-07-14

How did this win a Pulitzer?

A friend recommended this book, saying it was funny and had a good storyline. So I was inclined to find it likable. However, I could barely finish it. The plot and character development were both so flat that I could hardly even connect with the protagonist. The beginning was good enough, but after a while, I kept wondering when some kind of engaging development would take place, or even just for some kind of awakening in Arthur...but it was not to be. I was so disappointed. I would not recommend this book at all. The narrator gave a good performance, but that's the only really good thing about the book.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kelly
  • Colorado Springs
  • 2018-05-01

It should not have won.

I was excited to listen to this book for several reasons. The primary ones being the fact that it just won the Pulitzer Prize and that I kept hearing it was very funny. Unfortunately I wasn't swept away. There is no plot. It is really more of a character portrait which is often perfect for me because I love character-driven stories. There were moments when I smiled at the unique and quick humor.
And there were other times when I thought the book was quite charming. But then whole sections also bored me to tears and frustrated me. In the end I couldn't decide if the charm I found in the pages of the book was actually owed to the book or if it was due to my personal memories of a vacation I took to Morocco. And even though I only finished the book yesterday, I already feel it is mostly forgotten.

Side note: I really don't understand what it was that made this book merit the Pulitzer Prize.

92 of 102 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Katie
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • 2018-07-28

I must be missing something...

I am sorry that I couldn't get into this book. I was bored from beginning to end. 49 year old man, having lived a fairly privileged and interesting life feeling sorry for himself as he approaches 50; reflecting on past adventures and mishaps (which are not funny or that interesting). There was maybe one part that I thought someone might think was humorous.
Maybe it would be better reading the book in your own voice using your own mental images. I don't think the narrator did a bad job, but he certainly didn't do the book any favors.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • mhb
  • 2018-06-16

Not interesting

I did not think the story was interesting. I did not find the characters interesting.
I can’t understand the high ratings by many. I ran into a friend in my book group midway though who told me to stick with it, that it would get better. I stuck with it but it did not get better.
The guy that read it did a nice job and I think it was well written technically. Just not a good story.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • rosalinda lam
  • 2017-08-24

One of the few books I will read again

I just finished it and I LOVED IT!!! It is the best book I've listen to this year! It has everything I like: Humor, sarcasm, self deprecation, travel, middle age crisis, a mysterious narrator, a love story, San Francisco, Texas, great characters, and a great ending! I highly recommend it 👍

31 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • j phillips
  • TN
  • 2018-05-09

Less of a Winner

Less is an average audiobook in my opinion. I've read and/or listened to quite a few Pulitzer winners, and Less comes in low on the list. Andrew Sean Greer's meandering protagonist is a gay, middle-aged white male dreading the day he turns 50. This is no spoiler, as all of this is revealed in the beginning. Less is far from a page turner and a bit tedious at times. It's not a bad novel at all, though I expected more from a Pulitzer Prize winner. Petkoff does a nice job with the narration. If you find my review dull, then it's a perfect fit for this audiobook.

3.43 stars.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • 2018-04-14

I wanted to like this more...

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I listened to this book for book club. We chose it because it was on a "must read" list. It is a beautifully written book, which is always enjoyable, and there were parts where I laughed out loud. I understand that the point of the book was that the character was too self-involved, but it just became too much as the book progressed. I just wanted him to get a grip and move on. I might recommend this book depending on what the person was looking for and what they like.

If you’ve listened to books by Andrew Sean Greer before, how does this one compare?

I haven't listened this author's books before. This was the first one.

Have you listened to any of Robert Petkoff’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I haven't listened to the narrator's books before, but felt he did an excellent job. I am a Speech Pathologist and very picky about the voices I listen to on audiobooks. Robert Petkoff has a very mellow and pleasing tone to his voice, with good rhythm and intonation. It was an excellent listen in that regard.

Was Less worth the listening time?

At times it was, but overall it wasn't my favorite book.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful