Pure DrivelPure Drivel by Steve Martin

I gave this 3 of 5 stars on Goodreads

Usually I love Steve Martin’s writing, but this one was a miss for me. Perhaps it’s the short story format, perhaps it’s the fact that it’s a relatively old book for him and he may have been finding his feet. The stories were quirky, but it wasn’t organic quirk as we have come to expect from him. The whole book felt a little forced and it was mercifully short or I would have quit. If you’re looking to get into Steve Martin, stick to Shop Girl as your entry point. If you’re a completist, I’d still maybe skip it.

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An Object of BeautyAn Object Of Beauty by Steve Martin

I gave this one 4 of 5 stars on Goodreads

As a rule, I love Steve Martin’s books. Though I have yet to read a novel of his that comes close to his debut novel Shopgirl, this one is closest.

I have no specific interest in the art world and had been cautioned that I might not really get or enjoy this story. Not the case at all. In fact, having no preconceived notions about art or stake in it probably made the book more enjoyable. It was a glimpse into a world I will never be a part, giving it a sense of fantasy while referencing things I know are real having lived in New York.

Steve Martin is gifted at laying out spans of life in a effortless way, showing the through lines of a persons life so subtly that it’s as if you’re going through it with them. In the case of this story, we follow the rise and fall of an intrepid, sometimes devious, always ambitious, woman in the high powered art world of New York.

I haven’t talked to anyone who’s read this story who is involved, or even simply has knowledge, of the art world, so I cannot speak to its accuracy. But it feels authentic which is inviting to an outsider. I feel like I’m spying.

Toward the end there are a few chapters that feel a little forced, like there was a point he wanted to make all along but never found a place for. But these shoehorned bits are forgivable in light of the rest of the story.