Andrew S. Greer
Less is a great book if you love mysteries: the mystery with Less is how something so mediocre and safe won a Pulitzer.
It’s not a terrible book; I was able to finish it, but there was an element self-loathing involved in seeing Less through to the end. Somewhere around page 100 I started to have nagging doubts about it, and I really should have put it down, but it’s a very easy read.
Easy to digest is in fact its primary attribute. It’s very occasionally amusing. There are occasional nice bits of writing. The narrative mechanism, the protagonist’s trip around the world to avoid his ex’s wedding, keeps things from getting dull. Kind of. And that’s basically all that the novel has going for it.
Which is not enough. Less needed more.
Which is why I’ve ranked it below a few novels that were bad enough that I put them down. Those novels at least tried to ... take some sort of stand, to say something weird. They were in their own ways ambitious.
Less, on the other hand, is egregiously beige. Perhaps its main problem (among several) is that it is rooted almost entirely in the life and experiences of its protagonist, and the protagonist is dull. Despite being a globe-trotting novelist.
There is no character development and there’s not much of a plot. The novel’s disregard for telling or significant details condemns it to superficiality. There are no stakes to speak of; not much in the way of conflict, ideas, or insights. It flirts with comedy but is not funny.
Anyway, I could whine some more about it, but I think I’ll just crack open a new book instead.