Less

Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
Categories: LGBT, Literature & Fiction
4.0 out of 5 stars (6,203 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

"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)

Featured Article: The Best LGBTQIA+ Listens by Queer Authors


Inclusivity and representation has always been, and continues to be, one of the most important and positive aspects of literature. Unfortunately, listeners on the hunt for the best LGBTQIA+ books out there knows that finding stories about gay characters isn’t always the easiest. So, we’ve put together a series of lists detailing some of the best LGBTQIA+ listens available, from lesbian works to bisexual listens to trans stories. Discover some of the best.

What listeners say about Less

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Endearing, funny, but sometimes overly clever

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 occasional "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 paint a picture of the world the main character is traveling through. Especially thru Morocco and India, those images will linger in your mind. 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.

160 people found this helpful

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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.

45 people found this helpful

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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.

102 people found this helpful

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You either like it or hate it.

Ninety minutes in and I couldn't take anymore. It could be the way the story is told, or the fact that the main character just wasn't interesting. Between both of those reasons I opted not to go any further. The book has many great reviews so there is something there if you make the connection. Some books are like that. For me the back and forth just became monotnous and at times confusing. There aren't really any characters to help too much, but again I didn't get very far. If you decide to take a chance you'll probably know whether it's for you in the first 90 minutes or so. I suspect if you go further it could be one of those books where you keep hoping for something that never happens.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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3.55 stars........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. 3.55 stars.

30 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Bewitching

Bewitching is the word for this novel by Andrew Sean Greer. He captivates the reader throughout the book with his wit and humor but also beautiful language that is at once funny and completely germane to the situation. 'Magniloquent Spoony' might have been the last word of NYTimes author who fictitiously reviewed Arthur Less's book but in the end you are left rooting for this guy.

About the Audiobook: the narrator is just wonderful. He is a ventriloquist who is able to capture the emotion as well as the tone of each character in the novel. Highly recommend Robert Petkoff.

8 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

109 people found this helpful

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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 👍

40 people found this helpful

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Less is so much more!!

What a delightful book! A great love story spooled along a round-the-world trip, each chapter a funny, self-deprecating, insightful snapshot. Original, sweet, smart, wry.

22 people found this helpful

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Beautifully Written Coupled with Stellar Narration

What did you like best about this story?

Refreshing read for our times, a coming-of-middle age tale of a gay man dealing with the sometimes comedic, yet poignant life lessons. The author, Greer's prose is lyrical, humorous, and endearing; not a single wasted word.

What does Robert Petkoff bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Vivid narration, like a radio play. Incredible sense of characters through his voice and dialects used

16 people found this helpful