I came to read the book The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin in a sorta roundabout way.
Sure, I had heard of the book when it was released, but then I completely forgot about it. A few weeks ago I read an article about Steve Martin winning the Mark Twain Award for American Humor. Then, I started to see commercials for the movie adaptation of Steve Martin’s other novella, Shopgirl. I guess Steve Martin was on the brain when I then got locked out of my office (long story). I spent a few hours working out of the Public Library down the street. As luck would have it, the Friends of the Library were having a huge book sale while I was there. When I saw The Pleasure of My Company sitting there on the table for $1.50, it no longer seemed optional that I buy it. And I should also mention that I am huge Steve Martin fan in general. I saw him once doing a Q&A before his play Picasso at the Lapin Agile (soon to be a movie) here in the ATL. If you’re curious, Steve Martin’s favorite character, at that time, was Rupert the Monkey Boy. Anyway, I guess I’ll get around to talking about the book – after the jump…
So the book begins, “This all started because of a clerical error…”. The clerical error is that Mensa must have left a “1″ off Daniel Pecan Cambridge’s reported IQ score of 90. He imagines how embarrassed they will be when he reports their error. So begins our acquaintance with Daniel, a home bound obsessive compulsive who has what some might call a “very rich inner life”. Events slowly drag Daniel from his carefully constructed habits, and he is forced to engage with the world at large. Martin injects some social commentary as well (I think) when Daniel wins a contest to find the “Most Average American”. What does that say about us?
While his antics are often humorous, Daniel remains a sympathetic character. Martin has a soft touch and avoids full-on slapstick for the most part. The characters’ human-ness is what makes this book enjoyable, and we don’t mind some deft emotional manipulation to the “feel good hit of the year” ending. Overall, a nice book.