The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin (Hyperion), 165 pages, $29.95 cloth. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
There are two certainties in life: death and taxes. I'd like to add a third: if Steve Martin wrote it, it's funny. The Pleasure Of My Company, his latest book, is hilarious.
Daniel, age 35, observes the world from his apartment window and invents elaborate fantasies about himself and the people he sees.
Twice chosen as a finalist in Tepperton's Apple Pie Most Average American essay contest, he panics at the thought of Tepperton's discovering his fraudulent entry and at the irony of competing against himself. This is just one of Daniel's many mini-adventures.
There's also his imagined love for Elizabeth, a realtor, his weekly visits with Clarissa, a psychology intern, and his interaction with his neighbours, all of which are detailed in amusing internal monologues.
Martin, the thinking reader's comic, gleefully juggles and twists both words and thoughts so Daniel vibrates with life. I can hear Martin's droll voice as I read Daniel's meditations, and visualize Martin's physical comedy in Daniel's paralyzing encounter with his nemesis, a street curb.
Daniel reminded me of the teenaged protagonist, Christopher Boone, in Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime. Did autistic boy detective Boone grow up, move to Santa Monica and change his name to Daniel Pecan Cambridge?
Like Christopher, Daniel has quirky obsessions. His apartment light bulb wattage combined must not exceed 1,125. One day he decides to touch all the corners of all the photocopiers at Kinko's.
I thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of his company.