Steve Martin knows what he’s doing (Book Review #17)

The Pleasure of My Company
By Steve Martin.

steve martin

Ok, so I’ve been watching A LOT of Steve Martin. L.A. Story – my favorite (and if I ever visit that city I want to visit the LA of Steve Martin) Three Amigos – hilarious. The Jerk – ok, but it was his first movie. Shopgirl – Lovely.

Now his novella:

I’ll just say that this might be the most tender and funny story I’ve come across. (While Wendell Berry is most certainly moving, he’s not exactly…funny.) Daniel, a somewhat brilliant code maker/breaker and programmer, is extremely isolated by his obsessive/compulsive disorder that keeps him from crossing the street, moving out of his apartment, or owning a telephone. But like everyone he’s looking for love and companionship. Steve Martin’s comic timing and Daniel’s struggle to break from his loneliness are perfectly in sync, heartbreak following comedy in harmony.

Daniel is a fine narrator for his own story. He’s aware of how his own hang-ups make him appear to others, and he’s quite eloquent when it comes to describing his disorder. But he’s also observant of others around him. Slowly and almost without effort he develops relationships, first with his neighbors and then his visiting nurse/psychiatrist. As he allows these relationships to develop on their own, he takes great leaps of courage to push beyond his boundaries. His courage and quest for connection combine in perfect heartbreak and hilarity.

Steve Martin has proven that he is indeed a man of many talents, actor, stand-up comedian, and writer. This isn’t some crappy celebrity biography, or some children’s book whim (Madonna should never do anything other than be a material girl). It’s a wonderful piece about relationships, fear, love, and logic. It helps that Steve Martin is a mighty fine writer. He’s character’s voice never wavers. He has a strong sense of the story he’s telling. He knows when to back off and not lay down the sentimental stuff to thick. He’s funny.

This book is delightful.

Fred enjoyed his new biography, Born Standing Up. Check out his website.


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