I absolutely fell in love with Andrew Sean Greer’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel Less. I constantly recommend it to friends and suggest it every month in my book club. I just believed that everyone should and would enjoy reading it. Okay, not everyone but a lot of people. It’s also my main piece of evidence to throw into the ring every time somebody says “Literary Fiction is just depressing and dark”. Less was anything but dark. It is the opposite of dark and I’ve been obsessed with ever since. So I was genuinely delighted that there was a sequel coming. I wanted to spend more time with Arthur Less and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to it in 2022 when it was released. Instead, I figured I would start the year off on a positive note and make it my first book of 2023. Would it be as good as the first book? Or would it be a tricky second album?
Andrew Sean Greer’s prize-winning novel Less was so charming and enjoyable to read that it felt unfair to the other books. It’s the kind of book that I haven’t been able to get out of my head and will never stop recommending to people. Things that all meant that I was both very excited about the sequel and worried that it wouldn’t be able to live up to my expectations. However, my love for the character Arthur Less was so strong that I knew I had to read it. What has been happening to the author and his partner Freddy since we last saw them?
Life is seemingly pretty blissful for the pair as they live contentedly in their shared home, the “Shack”. That is until Arthur’s ex-boyfriend, Robert, dies and Less suddenly owes an awful lot in back rent. As Freddy is away for work, Arthur takes on the burden of this debt and agrees to several work opportunities. Just like in the first book, he finds himself on a journey that offers financial gain but, unexpectedly, also provides emotional gains. Instead of travelling the world, we are now driving across America in an RV with a revolving supporting cast that includes a famous science-fiction writer and his pug. Can Arthur make the money in time? What will his absence mean for his relationship with Freddy?
On the surface, Less is Lost is just a continuation of the previous novel. It has a very similar vibe and the story is fairly similar. Something that I really didn’t mind because of how good the first one was. However, the second book also introduces us to several different and important topics. We learn more about Arthur’s childhood and his relationship with his family. Throughout his journey, Less finds himself sticking out because of his sexuality and we see the discomfort he feels surrounding his own identity. A return to his hometown summons up memories of school bullies and name-calling. It’s nice to see that same the anxiety-ridden writer is still alive and well despite finding happiness at the end of the previous book.
Less is Lost is another absolute triumph and a joy to read. It is a constantly funny and bizarre odyssey narrated by Freddy himself. There are so many unforgettable situations and characters to meet along the way. It’s also nice to see so many familiar faces from the first book. Greer so easily captures the changing landscape of Less’ journey and brings a delicacy to cut through his wit. Alongside the comedy, this is an incredibly poignant book. There are plenty of emotional scenes and moments of self-discovery. The book also attempts to explore post-Trump America and the tension that exists everywhere. Although I have to say, this side of it is quickly pushed to one side in favour of more romantic themes.
There will be plenty of people who don’t agree that this is as good as the first one. There will be others who don’t believe that the sequel was necessary. I kind of see both of these points but I can’t agree with them. When a book is this lovely to read, I’m all for it. Sometimes, things should just be able to exist for the sake of existing. Less is More reminds me so much of the first book and I had such a great time reading it. If this is an indication of how good my 2023 books will be then this is going to be a great year.