Review: Andrew Sean Greer’s ‘Less’ follow-up is funny, sad, and most memorable

Andrew Sean Greer is the author of Less Lost. Photo: Kyleel Roberts

Andrew Sean Greer “Less Is Lost” is a poignant and funny narrative that serves as a follow-up to Greer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning song “Less” and as a precursor to an unforgettable character for those who haven’t read about Arthur before. . Poignant, witty and funny, the blend of elements that Greer brings to the table here makes this wonderful book a road trip, part love story, and part keen observation of contemporary America.

Arthur is not doing well. He has managed to make a living as a novelist, has been asked to be part of a famous award committee, a theater troupe is bringing one of his short stories to the stage, and he is in a stable, loving relationship with his partner, Freddy Bello. However, all of that changes when a not-so-old lover dies, the famous poet Robert Brownburn – with whom he spent 15 years defining his life.

He wasn’t living in a place he thought was his, but after Robert’s death, he learned he owed rent for all those years. The sudden financial crisis prompts Not to accept science fiction writer HHH Mandern. But defining the traits of Mandern, the larger-than-life character, is no easy task, and soon the party turns into a cross-country trip taking less through the South, the “Moderate West” and back to his hometown of Delaware. Along the way, Lis, driving a rickshaw named Rosina and next to him a dog named Dolly, meets many unique people and thinks about life, love and America while running from the shadow of his father, who is suddenly trying to communicate with him. With less after many years.

“Less Wasted” by Andrew Sean Greer. Photo: Little Brown/Hachette

While Freddy’s story is told by a partner not – a literary tactic that works surprisingly well and draws readers into the story over and over again as Freddy addresses the reader directly – Arthur is not the heart and soul of this novel. Less is a calm, self-absorbed person who enjoys solitude and suffers from a bit of social anxiety, but suddenly has to fight his demons constantly and interact with a lot of people in strange places. Because he’s so lovable, everything he experiences is seen through a lens of sympathy, and that makes things like his sadness and insecurity or his fear of getting killed in Alabama for being poignantly gay.

A very talented storyteller, there are bright lines in “Less is Lost” dipping her toes in hair: “Through the window, piano music quietly rustles, and when it finds nothing worth taking, it robs again and remains silent.” Likewise, while suffering less than Homophobic Occasionally, Greer’s representation of our country admits its flaws while also celebrating its ethos: “Oh, California! Statistically impossible blond. Sunglasses ubiquitous, as if everyone had just gone to the eye doctor; unoriginal palm trees that look , like many non-citizens, is positively patriotic about their newfound country.”

“Less Wasted” is perfectly balanced; Sad and cheerful, honest and funny, weird weird and very real. Greer is a great historian of our time, and his vision of America celebrates the best of it while also showing its dark side, and that makes this novel a demanding read.

Less is lost
Written by Andrew Sean Greer
(Little Brown; 304 pages; $31)

City Arts & Lectures Andrew Sean Greer presents: Personally. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 20, $36. Masks required. Sydney Goldstein Theatre, 275 Hayes Street, SF

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