Less by Andrew Sean Greer

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost.-Lee Bordeaux Books; 2017

Book Review:

In an effort to ‘casually’ avoid the wedding of his 9-year f*ck boy and outrun turning 50, Arthur Less accepts every job, award ceremony, teaching assignment, and vacation invitation to be as far away as possible.  He encounters former lovers, rivals, old friends, locals, and his publisher on his travels from New York, across the world to Japan.

Less is told his writing is spoony, that’s he’s bad gay, told people over 50 are too old for love and that a relationship ending after 20 years is a great success.  While he ruminates on these statements he never comes to a conclusion of his own on the matters, except that he is a fool.  Which a book club would have a great time arguing for or against.  Does throwing together a trip around the world to places he’s never been, make him a fool or adventurous?  Or as the omnipotent 3rd party narrator would have you believe, brave?  Does avoiding love make you sensical or an idiot?

The style of writing that quickly flits between the past and the present is as The New York Times hails; inspired, lyrical, and elegiac. And is one of the few books I found myself reading more than once and I think you should at least read once yourself. –Buy it!  

The Songs of Achilles by Madaline Miller

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.-Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011

Book Review:

From Patroclus’ point of view, from which the story is told, we see Achilles as one hell of a lyre player, beautiful, physically capable, and confident, not bordering on arrogant just yet. There is no wonder why Patroclus fell for him. Too bad Patroclus has neither looks, charisma, physical prowess, intellect, anything, to make him worthy of Achilles other than being chosen by him a la Pretty Woman. But just like I didn’t understand Achilles’ love for Patroclus, nor did I understand the Greek’s worship of Achilles.  Before the Trojan War, the myth from which Achilles is famed, he hadn’t killed a man, won a competition other than a track meet or gone on any adventures.  Hell, he was in hiding when the Greeks came to recruit him to fight to return Helen of Sparta from Troy.  How he was allowed to name himself ‘Best of the Greeks’ is beyond me. Fortunately for the Greeks, Achilles more than lived up to the hype, decimating hundreds of Trojans in a single blow. To be a hero in this time you only needed to be a fierce warrior, with a good song sung about you around the campfire, didn’t matter what or who you fought for, the prize was the glory.

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