The Heart Escape (Book Thoughts: Less, Andrew Sean Greer)

cover_greerSo yes, I have not read a book in a long while, but I think I am now getting relaxed enough in my life to read one, and what better way to restart by reading last year’s Pulitzer winning book for fiction? And the subject is about a character I can totally relate with. Less is about Arthur Less, a gay man who is turning fifty. He has been trying to be ‘guards up’ about matters of love – he has been with Freddy, a younger man, for the past nine years – although he has been somewhat detached from him. Or so he thought, that when Freddy announces he has met someone else and is getting married, he is forced to control his feelings . And not only about Freddy, but also on mortality, his literary career, and about everything major and minor and inconsequential. Panicking, he faces all of it the only way he knows how: by escaping, accepting every foreign trip he can, and this journey brings him all over the world.

Of course, I can relate with Arthur. I turned fifty last year and has faced a lot of these issues myself. I found some of the scenes in the book poignant and tender (his last encounter with Freddy is too real) that when the situations come close to farcical, it sort of broke my mood. But overall, I found Arthur to be an unforgettable character, and very realistic for sure, warts and all. Greer captures all the conflicted feelings that go along with a very complex character. and I saw myself in some of how he reacted to things happening in his life. I also liked that this is a travelogue of sorts, without it being touristy at all.  After finishing the book, I am reminded by the Peggy Lee song ‘Where Can I Go Without You.’ In that song, Peggy sings of going to other places to escape from a person, but if that person is in our heart, then you can run away all you want, you’re trapped.

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