Another Review at MyShelf.Com

BY Andrew Sean Greer
Read by Robert Petkoff

Hachette Audio
July 2018/ ASIN: B0714BGVIV
Fiction - Audiobook / 8 hours and 17 minutes

Reviewed by Leslie C. Halpern


This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is vividly brought to life in the new audiobook version. The narrator faced an enormous challenge to authentically portray various accents, including German, Italian, Spanish, Indian, and American, plus young, old, black, white, male, and female voices. Happily, Robert Petkoff rises to the challenge with exceptional voiceover work that animates the sad tale of Arthur Less, a lonely middle-aged, midlist novelist attempting to avoid his former gay lover’s wedding by traveling around the world to mediocre literary events.

Andrew Sean Greer’s best-selling novel (which also was named A New York Times Notable Book of 2017, A Washington Post Top Ten Book of 2017, and A San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten Book of 2017) explores one man’s failed attempts “at being himself,” and he needs foreign travel from one disappointing lecture, award ceremony, or teaching assignment to another to learn this lesson. Old friends and lovers mingle with new friends and lovers – sprinkled with some rivals from the past – to force Less into facing his shortcomings.

There’s poetry in the words of this intense character study. Less is to be enjoyed for its lyricism, insight, and characterizations, rather than plotting, action, or suspense. The story moves slowly, paused by lots of dialogue and romantic flashbacks, as Less teeters on the brink of his fiftieth birthday, alone and miserable with a lukewarm writing career. The two big loves of his life, a much older poet (out of Less’s league in terms of writing and now confined to an assisted living facility) and a much younger man (out of Less’s league in terms of physical attractiveness and now marrying another man) prompt the frequent flashbacks to their meetings, conversations, and intimate relations. Less’s homosexuality plays a part in his problems, but his mindset is the main source of his unhappiness.

Although this audiobook deprives readers of seeing the lovely metaphoric language as they would in a print edition, they get the bonus of hearing Petkoff’s vocal talents as Less travels the globe in search of himself.

Reviewed 2018