I’m back from my vacation (boo!) during which I managed to read two Pulitzer Prize winning novels (Less and The Road). Long flights are ideal reading time – at least to me – the hubby likes to watch movie after movie unless he’s wrapped up like a mummy sleeping. I finished Less on my flight to the U.S. Although I’ve had nearly three weeks to think about this review, I’m still unsure about how I would rate the novel.
Less is a difficult novel for me to review as I’d never have picked this novel up if it weren’t for my Pulitzer Prize Challenge. The description didn’t interest me much. Here’s the blurb direct from Amazon:
As a woman approaching fifty at the speed of light and a writer who has yet to meet success, I’m not interested in reading about someone else having the same sort of problems I am. Frankly, it sounds rather depressing. But reviewers better than myself have promised I’ll find the novel ‘bedazzling’, ‘hilarious’, ‘unexpectedly funny’, and all other sorts of glowing descriptions. While I didn’t hate Less, I certainly wasn’t bedazzled.
Let’s start with Arthur Less himself. I don’t dislike Less, but I can’t say I liked him either, because it feels as if there’s nothing there. He’s just bumbling around as if he doesn’t know his own mind. Somehow, amidst this bumbling, he always lands in someone’s bed. It doesn’t appear as if he needs to make any efforts whatsoever to find a bed buddy. This typifies Arthur’s character. He doesn’t actually plan anything, and somehow just ends up in a different place. For someone who sets an alarm to make sure she’s never late for an appointment, Less was a baffling man.
My sense of humor may need an update as well, as I didn’t find the novel hilarious or funny. There were a few scenes when he was in Berlin, which did cause me to snicker a bit. I enjoyed the witty remarks about Arthur’s proficiency in German (spoiler alert: he wasn’t proficient at all). My most common response to the novel was not a snicker but a sigh as Less found himself in another unexpected but somehow predictable situation. *Sigh*
My biggest issue with the novel was the point of view. It was rather disruptive. At times, the narrator would tell us insights about Less, and then the narrator would disappear for a few chapters – only to reappear when I’d forgotten about him. I found it annoying. We don’t learn who the narrator is until the end of the novel (although it’s not exactly a surprise).
At some point, I did find myself reading faster and faster as I needed Less’s situation to be resolved. He couldn’t continue to flounce around the world forever! He couldn’t re-write his novel until the end of time! Luckily, Less is resolved at the end with a neat little bow.
Next week, I’ll be reviewing The Road from Cormac McCarthy.