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The Book Guy

Poor Arthur Less. The self-proclaimed ‘midlist homosexual’ of Andrew Sean Greer’s latest novel is getting dumped on from all sides. His ex-boyfriend of nine years, Freddy, is about to marry someone else, he’s just been let go by his publisher and, perhaps most tragically of all, he’s about to turn 50. Feeling unable to either refuse or accept the invitation to Freddy’s wedding, he instead opts for a Grand Tour of sorts.

He travels, for various reasons, to New York (author interview), Mexico (‘Una noche con Arthur Less’), Germany (teaching secondment), Morocco (friend-of-a-friend’s birthday) and, fi nally, Japan (cookery review), but it’s the story’s trips to Italy and France that are the most successful. Poking fun at the mid-tier literary awards circuit, Less fi nds himself nominated for a prestigious Italian prize that is, he discovers, ultimately judged by secondary school students. In Paris, he’s offered a later flight and by chance meets a married Spanish man; their encounter is beautifully touching, in a yearning, wistful Before Sunrise type of way.

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