Less Is Lost

In Less Is Lost--the follow-up novel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Less, written by Andrew Sean Greer (The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells)--Arthur Less is on the road again. This time he travels the U.S. instead of overseas. Narrator Freddy Pelu, Less's lover, returns. Freddy, who is approaching 40, and 50ish "Minor American Novelist" Less live together in a San Francisco bungalow they call the Shack, previously owned by Less's former lover, poet Robert Brownburn. After Robert dies, Less learns he owes a decade's back rent to the estate. While Freddy narrates from his sabbatical in Maine, the novel follows Less on his money-making travels through the South, Southwest and Mid-Atlantic as he drives a famous science fiction writer and his pug to Santa Fe in an RV that "vibrates dramatically"; accompanies a theater troupe on performances of one of his stories; and fails to do his part while serving on a committee for a literary award.

Some readers might feel this novel is merely part two of Less, but a much more apt comparison is to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in that both are portraits of America from characters who consider themselves outsiders. The novel has one exquisite line after another; for example, Freddy describes himself as a man whose "curls have patinaed like scallops on old silver."

"America, how's your marriage?" Freddy asks at one point. Less Is Lost is more than just a gorgeously written sequel. It's also a perceptive observer's entertaining assessment of whether a breakup of the American nuptials is imminent. --Michael Magras, freelance book reviewer

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