Less Is Lost by Andrew Sean Greer review – diminishing returns

The sequel to the US author’s 2018 Pulitzer-winning novel misses the satirical mark far more times than it scores a hit

Have you ever been on a holiday where you spend the whole time coveting your companion’s book? A few years ago, I spent a long weekend in France with a friend who smirked and hooted each time she picked up Less by Andrew Sean Greer, a satirical novel about a globetrotting “minor American novelist” who will attend any minor literary event in order to avoid his ex-boyfriend’s wedding. I was making my way through a piece of experimental prose about chemical castration that I was reviewing, casting envious glances from my sunlounger.

So when I heard that Greer had sent his hapless hero, Arthur Less, “Sancho Panza-ing” across the US for a sequel, I chucked both books in the suitcase, convinced I’d guaranteed myself hours of thigh-slapping, slack-jawed glee. My friend, I should add, was not alone in her verdict. Less won the 2018 Pulitzer prize for fiction (the competition included George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo) and has been hailed by Armistead Maupin and David Sedaris in the most ecstatic terms.

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