Posts Tagged ‘Steve Martin’

BOOK REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY: “The Pleasure of My Company: A Novel” by Steve Martin

September 4, 2015

Steve Martin 2

Editor’s Note: Roy E. Perry reviewed books for ”The Tennessean” and ”Nashville Banner” for more than thirty years. ”Underground Nashville” is always proud to post Mr. Perry’s latest book review.

If you think Columbo (the TV detective) had an extreme case of OCD, you should get a load of Daniel Pecan Cambridge, protagonist of (the) Steve Martin’s novel, The Pleasure of My Company. If Columbo has a “full house” of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Daniel holds a “royal flush.”

An endearingly edgy neurotic, Daniel has peculiarities and quirks sufficient for a dozen people. He suffers from bouts of anxiety, is haunted with “curb fear” (crossing an eight-inch curb causes a panic attack), is afflicted with agoraphobia, and struggles with paranoia. Daniel speaks of his “demanding sense of order”; he values coherence, symmetry, and serenity. Lonely and searching for love, he lives in a fantasy world, rarely leaving his Santa Monica apartment, except on a perilous, circuitous trek to the Rite Aid Pharmacy for groceries. He buys earplugs simply because they’re on sale, and there’s always the horrible chance he might see a gas station attendant wearing a blue hat.

Our hero is far from being a dummy. One of his favorite pastimes is composing complicated magic squares (mathematical challenges that also fascinated Benjamin Franklin and Albrecht Durer). In no way do Daniel’s psychoneurotic idiosyncracies undermine his intelligence.   Daniel laments a “clerical error” at Mensa: “I’d taken their IQ test, but my score came back missing a digit. Where was that 1 that should have been in front of the 90?”

Other than hilarious descriptions of Daniel’s neuroses, the heart of this tale involves Daniel’s infatuation with three women: Elizabeth Warner, an experienced realtor; Clarissa, a student shrink-in-training who has problems of her own; and Zandy, a cute clerk at the Rite Aid Pharmacy.

Daniel’s wealthy grandmother, who owns a huge pecan grove in Helmut, Texas (hence Daniel’s middle name), mails him generous checks, his only financial support. When Granny dies, Daniel and one of his three love interests travel to Texas to visit the deceased’s grave. To assuage his anxieties over hazarding such a long trip, Daniel determines that every word and sentence he utters en route will be sans the letter “e.”

Discouraged in his quest for mutual affection, Daniel muses, “There are few takers for the quiet heart.” But (and without revealing a spoiler) the novel ends happily. Perhaps there are still takers for the quiet heart!

Daniel’s first-person narrative is both funny and sad; we pull for him that he may have a breakthrough and relate to reality in a more positive, confident fashion.  In The Pleasure of My Company, Steve Martin paints a sympathetic and sensitive portrait of a person struggling to break free of the chains that bind him. Mr. Martin has given us another enjoyable story—a worthy follow-up to Shopgirl.

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of ”Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels ”Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and ”Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer.

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Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as “beautiful, haunting, powerful”—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

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Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

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Editor’s Note:”Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering thoughts from the shadows of a great American city. Dave Carew

Book Review by Roy E. Perry: “Shopgirl: A Novella” by Steve Martin

July 15, 2015

 Shopgirl

Editor’s Note: Roy E. Perry reviewed books for “The Tennessean” and “Nashville Banner” for more than thirty years. “Underground Nashville” is always proud to post Mr. Perry’s latest book review. 

REVIEW BY ROY E. PERRY: 

Steve Martin’s Shopgirl: A Novella (2000) is an interesting psychological study of four characters. (CAUTION: The risqué nature of this work may offend some readers. The author peppers its pages with “the f-word”; when released as a film in 2005, it received an R rating.)

Mirabelle goes into a Beverly Hills yogurt shop and hears a woman conversing on a cell phone. Concerned about someone who is ill, the woman says to the person on the other end of the line, “Just remember, darling, it is pain that changes our lives.” (Hold this thought in mind; before story’s end, we shall meet it again.)

The protagonist, Mirabelle Buttersfield, 28—the shopgirl of the title—works in the fourth-floor glove department of a Nieman Marcus store in Los Angeles. Hers is a boring job “selling things that nobody buys anymore.”

Shy and terribly lonely, Mirabelle is attractive, it’s just that she is never the first or second girl chosen. She takes Serzone (and, later, Celexa) to control her immobilizing depression. Separated from suicidal thoughts by only a thin veneer, she struggles to keep that veneer from cracking. Mirabelle desperately needs someone to talk to, to hold her close, to affirm and appreciate her inner beauty.

Lisa Spencer, a flirtatious tart who seduces and captures men simply for the delight of ditching them, also works at Nieman’s, and is Mirabelle’s exact inverse. Steve Martin writes:

“If Immanuel Kant had stumbled across the two women [whom we now see having lunch at the Time Clock Café], he would have quickly discerned that Lisa is all phenomena and no noumena, and that Mirabelle is all noumena and no phenomena.” [In Kant’s philosophy, a phenomenon is a thing as it appears to and is constructed by the mind, as distinguished from a noumenon, or thing-in-itself.] In other words, Lisa is all surface; Mirabelle has depth.

Enter two men with whom Mirabelle develops romantic and erotic involvements: Jeremy, 26, and Ray Porter, a millionaire twice her age. The chronicle of these relationships is an insightful psychological study of how men and women—having divergent expectations—consistently misread and misunderstand one another.

Although the 130-page novella contains some clever quips and humorous moments, it is basically a serious work, rather than the slapstick gag one might expect from Mr. Martin. One pulls for Mirabelle, hoping she will overcome her problems and mistakes, and find the right road out of her slough of despondency.

Although people know Steve Martin as a zany, stand-up comedian—a “wild and crazy guy”—most do not know he majored in philosophy at California State University, studying, among other things, metaphysics, ethics, and logic. At various places in this novella, his penchant for the philosophical peeps through.

In fact, Martin may have picked up a key idea from Nietzsche, who wrote: “Only suffering leads to knowledge. Mighty pain is the last liberator of the spirit; she alone forces us to descend into our ultimate depths. I know life better because I have so often been at the point of losing it.”

Or, as the character in Shopgirl puts it: “Just remember, darling, it is pain that changes our lives.”

For other book reviews by Roy E. Perry, please visit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2MVUWT453QH61/ref=cm_cr_auth/002-6294896-4602409?%5Fencoding=UTF8

David M. (Dave) Carew is writer/editor of “Underground Nashville” and the author of the novels “Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville” and “Voice from the Gutter,” both now available at Amazon.com and XLibris.com. Dave is also a freelance book editor, publicist, seminar and workshop leader, journalist, and advertising/marketing/public relations writer. ************

Everything Means Nothing to Me: A Novel of Underground Nashville by Dave Carew—which was praised by The Tennessean as beautiful, haunting, powerful—is now available in an all-new paperback edition. For more information, please visit:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/191-4818370-7728230?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=David+M.+Carew

***********

Do you want to help homeless people in Nashville learn culinary arts and other employment skills that provide a specific, effective path off the streets? Please visit Lambscroft.org (link below) and consider making a financial contribution. Any amount is very helpful and appreciated. Thank you.

http://www.epiclifecreative.net/LambsCroft/

***********

Editor’s Note: “Underground Nashville” covers artists, authors, musicians, poets, political figures, and other compelling people and happenings not typically covered by the mainstream Nashville media. It also presents reflections and commentary from an underground/indie perspective, offering thoughts from the shadows of a great American city. Dave Carew