People I come across in everyday life inspiration for my novels’ characters: Andrew Sean Greer

Kolkata, Jan 22 (PTI) Author Andrew Sean Greer, who bagged a Pulitzer in 2018 for his satirical comedy ‘Less’, said he draws inspiration from the people he comes across in everyday life to sketch the characters of his novels.

Greer, who was in the city to address a session at the Tata Steel Literary Meet, also said that he looks for humour even in mundane and annoying situations like having to wait for luggage at the airport.

“I take notes everywhere I go, about the mannerisms of people, their hair, glasses and also some unique features like someone missing an arm. I like learning about people’s lives.

“When i sit to write, I think about the way I would have told this story to my friends at the bar,” he stated.

The writer, who has penned a sequel to his award-winning novel, explained that he had tried writing a different story after ‘Less’, but it somehow ended up being about his protagonist from the previous one.

“As a child, i would always try to write sequels of the books that existed. I think that’s a good way to start… I remember reading ‘Watership Down’ by Richard Adams. It was about rabbits. And then I wrote a sequel to that, which was about squirrels.

“My agent, however, had asked me not to write a sequel to the Pulitzer-winning novel. I took that advice and started writing a different book, but the other book just turned out to be about Arthur Less (the main character from ‘Less’),” he said.

The 52-year-old writer, who has also received critical acclaim for his books ‘The Story of a Marriage’ and ‘The Confessions of Max Tivoli’, stressed he often makes fun of circumstances that are actually very upsetting to him.

Greer, who identifies himself as gay, went on to say, “We lost many in the generation of gay men above me to AIDS. That’s one of the saddest things I have known, but therefore it’s also a source of comedy. Now, we don’t know what it is like to grow old. Same with love. When you sign up for it, you also sign up for grief.”

Pointed out by a member of the audience that his book ‘Less’ has a sense of melancholy despite it being a comedy, the author said, “Poignant is the word that I often use for myself when I can’t describe the mood that I am in… when I feel a little wistful but not unhappy. I think that naturally goes into the books.”

Asked about his next novel, Greer said that it is set in Italy, where he has been living for a while.

“The theme is about death, as I had been thinking about it for sometime. But, it would be about death in a funny way,” he signed off.