There’s a lot to love about this novel—the beautiful and tight prose, the humor, the humanity of it all—but you know there’s a BUT coming, right? It’s not a big but. It’s really just my but. But, I struggled with the ending.

The best parts of the novel are not about the plot. The plot itself is not new. The story of a Caucasian traveling the world for soul searching and/or to recover from a broken heart has been told many times. What sets this book apart are the insights about life and relationships. Greer’s prose is poetic and funny, incisive, and full of heart.

There was a whole passage about what it’s like to live with a genius. It ended in such a heart-wrenching way that only a skilled writer can manage.

This novel is a balm to the soul.

This book is also putangina* funny. It is Eat, Pray, Love, but financially prudent. We always wonder: How do these people just up and leave? What about their job, their house, their dog? How are they gonna pay for the entire trip? It is a heavy question for a Third Worlder like myself. In Less, the author actually takes time to explain the financial aspect of this life-changing world tour. As a Third Worlder, I so appreciate that.

The Less German chapter was riotous. I think language barrier just lends itself to hilarity, and Greer writes it so well.

It’s such good fun to read out loud. If not for copyright issues, I might just make an entire audiobook out of this. It just sounds so much better read aloud. The book feels like it was relayed verbally and then transcribed.

When Less is More

“He wears no watch, his faith is fast.” That was how the narrator introduced Arthur. Immediately, you think that this is a person who goes with the flow. He just lets things happen to him. He’s willing to settle for less, so others can take up more space. But you would be wrong. Arthur is not passive at all.

“He would accept them all.” This was the turning point and the most salient decisive action from Arthur. This was the moment he decided to eatpraylove his way into avoiding an ex’s wedding. But the frustrating thing about Arthur is not that he is passive, it’s that he makes bad decisions. Even when he cheated on Robert, he manages to paint himself as the loser. And yet, for all his self-deprecation and bad decisions, he still manages to appear more endearing than the other more well-adjusted characters in the book. That’s the power of the author. Or more precisely, the power of a loving narrator who manages to turn Less into something more.

In the hands of a lesser author, Arthur Less could just be a bumbling, unlikeable mess. But Greer cuts through the mess and went straight to the heart of the character. Having not read Ulysses, I probably missed a lot of the references. Suffice it to say, I look forward to rereading this book from a whole new perspective.

“His Swift isn’t a hero. He’s a fool.” With this, I wholeheartedly agree.

In the end, what makes this novel so enjoyable is the journey and not the destination. The destination is familiar, perhaps comforting, but the best of Arthur Less is experienced in transit.

*I’m sorry for the language, but it is just so laugh-out-loud funny, it deserves an expletive. No disrespect sa mga ina.

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