Less is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer

I loved Less is Lost just as much as I loved the first book: Less. In Less is Lost we start with the death of Robert, the poet that Less used to live with, and the news that Less now owes 10 years of rent on the house he has been living in since Robert moved out. Less, a lesser-known writer, is offered a tour with various off shoots and so sets out to earn the money he owes. Once again Greer shows the rather awful way that lesser (!) writers have to earn a living.

At the end of Less it was revealed that Freddy Pelu was the narrator and lover of Less and so the story takes up again with Freddy narrating the next chapter of their lives.

Less’s first stop is a profile of the writer H.H.H. Mandern who writes sci-fi at the rate of one or two a year and is fabulously famous. Somehow, Mandern uses the profile as a way to get Less to drive him and his dog in a camper van through the Mojave desert to meet up with his estranged daughter and so begins his adventures.

Although Less is an anxious man, the story revolves around putting him in situations where he will be uncomfortable only for Less to discover that he can and does survive these things. The first is being donated the camper van and touring around to find places to stay. In the south he is often asked if he is ‘from the Netherlands’ which is code for ‘Are you gay?’. It has to be said that his dress, through a variety of mishaps, does not help. A poncho and a moustache with twidled, turned up ends possibly seals his fate but in fact in terms of ancestory, Less is a Walloon, according to his father who spoke German to him. Walloons are French speaking from the parts of Belgium that neighbour France. It can be a subtle humour at times.

Speaking German is a source of humour again in the book, as it is in Less. It is very funny when it is offered in translation, sounding a bit like E.T. ‘Shy – I am.’

Everything in the story is about loss, from his jumper to his father and inevitably all the money he was hoping to make to cover his back rent. The only thing he didn’t lose was Freddy Pelu his lover whom the story leads us to expect that he might. So this is also a romance and a tender understanding of what love is. The question is, will love win in the end? As Freddy says,

‘Well, reader, I will simply let you guess.’

last page of the book.

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