A discussion of Less: A Novel should start, I suppose, with a brief history of how I ended up reading it. Like many of the books I read these days, I found Less at my local independent bookstore (thank you Unabridged, and whenever you want to start paying me for the free advertising, I’ll take it), atop a shelf in the queer section, a little recommendation next below it telling me that, according to Ianni or Jason or Janice, this book was the Bee’s Knees.
And I didn’t read it.
I wanted to read it. I meant to read it; it looked like a sweet, fun book, and I’d enjoyed the other books I found at Unabridged; my one true love, aka The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, had come from there, after all. And yet.
Perhaps it was the slightness of the premise, the fact that a book about a gay novelist traveling the world to avoid his ex’s wedding seemed specifically primed to fill every box in a checklist for “quirky romcom.” And while Unabridged had been kind to me, there have also been occasionally misses—Perfect Ten was a sweet, fun rom-com, but still came out feeling a little too light. (Maybe I’m also just not made for teen romcoms? Maybe.)
Then I walked back into Unabridged, saw Less on the front table with a sign that said “winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction,” and all my excuses came crashing down.
Surprise of all surprises, I loved it.