I’m in-love – with Arthur Less.
Arthur: Robert Brownburn’s young lover; he, the one with a face that “takes on the expression of a bronze-medal winner in a three-man race” ; a writer who considers himself a failed novelist; a man about to turn fifty and thinks he has little to show for it.
I’m in-love with Arthur Less, but Arthur is in-love with Freddie Pelu, Arthur’s friend and nemesis’s nephew. And Freddie is about to get married — to someone other than Arthur. So what’s Arthur to do? Go to the wedding and listen to everyone talk about him behind his back? No! Arthur has a better plan. He’s going to run away, the way he always does. He’s going to run away and travel around the world. Together, we’ll go to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India and Japan and put thousands of miles between the man he loves and the wedding he refuses to attend. What could possibly go wrong?
During the trip, he’ll almost fall in love in Paris, avoid falling to his death in Berlin, barely survive a Moroccan ski chalet during a Sahara sandstorm, book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and arrive in Japan too late for the cherry blossoms. In between: science fiction fans, crazed academics, emergency rooms, starlets, doctors, exes and, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to see will haunt his every step. And somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. The second phase of life, as he thinks of it, will catch up with him. Poor Arthur!
Arthur’s is a love story for the ages. No, he won’t fall in-love with me. He won’t even know I’m there, loving and hoping he’ll turn around and notice me. But I’ll follow Arthur to the ends of the world. I’d do anything for him. Because once you’ve been in-love with Arthur,
once you’ve actually been in love, you can’t live with “will do”; it’s worse than living with yourself.
Arthur: you have to know him to understand. When he kisses you, when you kiss Arthur Less, it’s like,
how do I explain it? Like someone in love. Like he has nothing to lose. Like someone who has just learned a foreign language and can use only the present tense and only the second person. Only now, only you. There are some men who have never been kissed like that. There are some men who discover, after Arthur Less, that they never will be again.
And what can anyone learn from all this? What wisdom can anyone gain from going on a journey with Arthur Less? Perhaps Zohra said it best when she turned 50 – hours before Arthur – and from the depths of the shallow font of wisdom only 50 year olds are allowed to drink from she declared:
“Arthur, happiness is bullshit. That is the wisdom I give you from my twenty-two hours of being fifty. That is the wisdom from my love life. You’ll understand at midnight.”
You’ll have to excuse Zohra. She was drunk at the time.
But don’t take it from me. Take it from all the others who have also fallen for Arthur. So much so, that the Pulitzer Prize committee awarded Arthur this year’s award for best novel!
Yes, Arthur! You are finally famous in your own right. Or, rather, Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer for best novel. Andrew penned your story so that I – we – could fall in-love with you. A gay novel, a gay character, a gay writer: winners of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize! And so well deserved. A happy ending after all.
Arthur deserves no Less!