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Pure Drivel

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  4,798 ratings  ·  346 reviews
Steve Martin has always been one of the most intelligent of comedians (you won't find Adam Sandler writing a play about Einstein and Picasso anytime soon), but this intelligence is manifested in gymnastically absurdist flights of fancy, rather than the politically informed riffs typical of performers like Lenny Bruce. Pure Drivel is a collection of pieces, most of them wri ...more
Published (first published September 16th 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Troy Blackford
This was a funny collection of essays and short pieces by Steve Martin. Everything from writing tips (on dialog: 'just dumb yourself down by 50 IQ points, and type') to imaginary medication warnings ('may contain bungee cords'), this book was pleasantly all-over-the-place in topics, but always amusing. From the shortage of periods that Times New Roman is currently experiencing, to a piece recommending sledgehammers to those who are afraid of new technology, I was laughing at all of the stuff in ...more
Tricia Bateman
if you've been wondering how bill murray managed to stage a comedic comeback but not steve martin, then you're just not looking in the right place. martin's humor is still sharp as ever. it's just been in written form for the last decade. my favorite essay in this one is "times new roman announces a shortage of periods." it's written with only one period over 3 pages and cracks me up every time i read it.
Joanne
I wish Steve Martin would read to me every day....
Chy
I don’t even know where to start. Plot is not a factor. This is a collection of pure drivel, for certain. It’s tidbit thoughts and ramblings and short story pieces. It’s wrought with Steve Martinism.

Whatever do you mean, Chy? you ask.

“Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol,” Martin says, near the beginning. I was hooked. I loved it. I poured myself a mix drink, shoved my own writing projects aside, and dove in. Martin went on such a meander
...more
Andy
In many ways Steve Martin could be considered a comedian for my parents' generation. By the time I started watching SNL in High School and college he had long since left the show (Norm MacDonald, Phil Hartman, and then eventually Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, and Jimmy Fallon were the stars when I was watching it most.) Also, I haven't seen that many of his movies. I was born in the '80's, so I missed most of his comedies when they first came out. The movies I recall seeing with him in the cast are fi ...more
Bruce
Jun 01, 2013 Bruce rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of words and Steve Martin's standup comedy schtick, so pretty much everyone
Going to the library to find Mark Twain's travel books, I was directed to the humor section. There I came across the three thin volumes that form the basis of this triple review. Generally speaking, it's probably not fair to the authors to compare their respective works, but I'll exercise the prerogative anyway because these are all so similar (and who's gonna stop me). Each of these books weighs in at a squidge over 100 pages, with about 20 short essays that achieve absurdity mostly by putting ...more
Matt
This is my first foray into reading anything written by Steve Martin, and I must admit I am now on the hunt down for some more fiction as this book was fabulous.

Overall this is a laugh out loud book of 23 short (some pieces are so short they could well be considered flash fiction) stories, and all of them without exception could well be considered literature of the absurd, i.e. "The Sledgehammer: How It Works"- which is exactly what the title suggests, and so much more. Another favorite piece w
...more
Whitney
Steve Martin is my favorite comedian. He has the best mix of Nabokov jokes and underpants jokes.
Hayes
I love Steve Martin, but this book is mostly Drivel, with a capital D. One or two good pieces, the rest so severely dated that I didn't get the joke. Or perhaps I am so old that I don't remember the joke. Whatever.

The two best pieces are:
"Times Roman Font Announces Shortage of Periods": the whole piece is consequently written without full stops; and

"Schrödinger's cat" (see Wiki article) where Martin presents us with other paradoxes such as Wittgenstein's Banana, Elvis's Charcoal Briquette, and
...more
Eric Wallace
This collection of short stories is not his best work (The Pleasure of My Company would be hard to top), but nevertheless each piece is thoroughly in line with his delightful brand of "anti-humor". To give you an idea: several hours after reading the title story, it struck me as a far more thoughtful (and amusing) commentary on his own work than I had imagined while reading it.
Mark Rayner
It baffles me how this got in the non-fiction category, but at its heart, Pure Drivel is a selection of absurd short stories, some of them verging on flash fiction. I particularly enjoyed the closing pieces about the shortage of periods in Times New Roman (the most loathed font ever), "Bad Dog" and "Side Effects."

I listened to this one, rather than read it, and I feel like it was the right banana.
Margie
These shorts come across almost like scripts for a Steve Martin comedy routine. They're very funny, but need to be read over the course of quite a length of time; too much at once lessens the humor.
Matt Sears
I love Steve Martin. I used to secretly listen to Get Small and Wild and Crazy Guy in 6th grade social studies. I think I own all his albums on vinyl. I’ve seen all his movies, except maybe Pennies from Heaven. I’ve read his books. In particular I’ve listened to his book Born Standing Up four times, and I’ll probably listen to it again this summer. Pure Drivel, unfortunately, didn’t do much for me. There were some pieces here that I read out loud to my family that resulted in real laughs, especi ...more
Jessica
This book is funny! But, then again, I love Steve Martin. My favorite bit is "Sledgehammer."
Jess
Sep 13, 2009 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Martin fans, short essay fans, others
Recommended to Jess by: $1 at a book sale and entirely worth it
Shelves: essay, z_09
Steve Martin wrote this collection of essays, many previously published in the New Yorker or similar, while on a break from acting/writing/etc.

I love Steve Martin. He's an interesting fellow, a good Letterman guest, and the kind of guy you could talk to for an entire afternoon and still want to meet tomorrow for lunch. Because of this, I'd go along with him for most things.

The first half of this book was hilarious. I kept laughing out loud, a nice treat before bed during my first full week of t
...more
Karen
My story with Steve Martin is kind of weird. Due to my age and the fact that I didn't grow up in the United States, I never really knew much about Steve Martin as a comedian. Growing up in Paraguay, I only knew him from the movies I sometimes caught on cable while channel surfing. These movies were usually subtitled or dubbed in Spanish, usually romantic comedies, usually light and fun. I thought of him as the cute (yes, I know, even as a 12-year old I was a weirdo) dude with white hair who was ...more
Dan Shonka
Hey, did you like Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes? If so, I think you'll dig Pure Drivel. It's silly, and genius. It made me laugh out loud. If you don't like the chapter about side effects, well, you may just need some of those new fangled prescriptions. Is it ALL that funny? Well, maybe not. But then maybe some of it just needs you to be in the right (silly) mood. At any rate, it's a quick, entertaining read. And the way I figure, if a book makes you laugh out loud, it's worth every penny.
Randy Reus
I'm guessing Steve Martin must love Woody Allen's books, Side Effects, Getting Even, and Without Feathers, since this reads very similarly. Both men write short, funny, pseudo-intellectual pieces that would be right at home in the New Yorker, where most of these and a lot of Mr. Allen's were published.
My favorites in this collection were "A Public Apology" and "Side Effects" (see - I told you he loves Woody's books!) The few that weren't funny were over so quickly that it didn't matter. This w
...more
Elaine
Everything I've "read" of Steve Martin has been an audiobook, and his voice is perfectly suited to narrating his own works. This was the least impressive of what I've heard from him, however. It really was "drivel." Some of the stories were fantastic (i.e. "...Shortage of Periods," "A Public Apology"), some were absolutely terrible (i.e. "I Love Loosely"), but most were just "meh." It was definitely enjoyable on a car trip, though.
Gretchen
Pure Drivel is a collection of short fiction by Steve Martin. In this book, Martin discusses meaningful things like MENSA, writing and how easy it is, apologizing, and Michael Jackson.

I liked this book a lot more than his other collection of fiction. These pieces were a lot longer, more clever, and ultimately more entertaining. I really enjoyed "Dear Amanda," a collection of letters from a guy to his ex-girlfriend. I also liked "Times Roman Font Announces Shortage of Periods," in which Martin w
...more
Chuck
I am not a fan of comedians, but Steve Martin can on occasion be hilarious. He was very funny in this book appropriately called Pure Drivel, but not funny enough often enough. There were several points during the book that had me laughing out loud near tears, but there were times I would forget what I just read. In any case, if you're looking for a fast, quick read with a change of pace, this might do.
Richard Gartee
Comedian Steve Martin is also a prolific writer. This collection of short comedic essays appeared in the New Yorker and other publications. His written humor differs greatly from his sort of slapstick movie style. Sly, thought provoking, and sophisticated pieces such as Schrodinger's Cat, simultaneously amuse and boggle the mind.
Stephen

"Pure Drivel" is pure fun. Comedy is a funny thing (well, duh), either you laugh or you do not; you can’t fake it. And if you are into Steve Martin, as I have been since he was that wild-and-crazy-guy with the arrow through his head, then this book will not disappoint.

These supposedly serious essays that originally appeared in "The New Yorker" are off the wall. No one really looks at the world the way he does.

If you've been reading a lot of oh-so-serious books and need something light and refre
...more
Tom
This is a great books for reading on commutes and lunch breaks. Each of these 20-odd stories is very pithy and quick, and it's a very fast, engaging read. As one would expect, Steve Martin's cleverness and wit are on display in these stories. It might never be hysterically funny, but the stories are all solid.
David
I like Steve Martin, and I particularly enjoyed his autobiography, but this just didn't hit my funny bone. It's absurdist humor, but it just feels dated (admittedly, it is 14 years old.) It's also fairly consistent stylistically despite article themes which practically scream to be written differently (e.g., the titular article about drivel has a few abstruse metaphors, but otherwise there's not much different about it.) Ultimately, some of the premises are creative, but it seems like their pote ...more
Stephanie Lee
I give this book 3.5 stars. I rounded down, because it was closer to 3. This book had it funny moments, but some parts were boring. I love Steve Martin, but this book didn't really do it for me. I am glad that it was so short. I don't think I could have done 400 pages. I think I just prefer stories to essays that jump everywhere.
Eric Hendrixson
This is Steve Martin at his best. The stories are hilarious and his writing style is particularly suited to these stories. He loses a star for the slimness of the volume, "A Word From the Words," "Changes in the Memory After 50," and stories along those lines that seem like filler material. I like the Oulipo thing when it is done well, but it didn't work here. "How I Joined Mensa," "Yes, In my Own Backyard," "The Wily Filipino," and, of course, "Pure Drivel" are well worth the cover price of the ...more
Jeff
Jun 24, 2008 Jeff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drivel lovers
Shelves: non-fiction
As most great comedians tend to be, Steve Martin is a wordsmith. He was off his game more often than expected, but this is almost a vanity publication for him. One of the perks of being famous is that publishers will put your words in print (e.g., the previous Pope's and Jack Palance's books of poetry!--so obviously you only need to be a little famous for such preferential treatment...and that's NOT sour grapes ;-).

Anyhoo! i enjoyed this little book of little snippets. Not LOL or ROTFLMAO kinda
...more
Angie
I've read other Steve Martin books and anticipated this would be funny and poignant. It was neither and eerily similar in writing and topic style to George Carlin, who is either superbly amazing or really terrible. This lent to the latter. Bummer.
Joseph
This book is his essays, short stories and thoughts on several different topics. I like Steve Martin, but this book feel really short of being good. There were some funny ones, but mostly non funny ones. I am sorry, but don't really recommend.
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Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician, and composer. He was raised in Southern California in a Baptist family, where his early influences were working at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm and working magic and comedy acts at these and other smaller venues in the area. His ascent to fame picked up when he became a writer for the Smothers ...more
More about Steve Martin...
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“Scientists at first were skeptical that a kitten-type being could exist in the rare Martian atmosphere. As a test, two Earth kittens were put in a chamber that simulated the Martian air. The diary of this experiment is fascinating:

6:00 A.M.: Kittens appear to sleep.
7:02 A.M.: Kitten wakes, darts from one end of cage to another for no apparent reason.

7:14 A.M.: Kitten runs up wall of cage, leaps onto other kitten for no apparent reason.

7:22 A.M.: Kitten lies on back and punches other kitten for no apparent reason.

7:30 A.M.: Kitten leaps, stops, darts left, abruptly stops, climbs wall, clings for two seconds, falls on head, darts right for no apparent reason.

7:51 A.M.: Kitten parses first sentence of daily newspaper that is at bottom of chamber.

With the exception of the parsing, all behavior is typical of Earth kitten behavior. The parsing activity, which was done with a small ball-point pen, was an anomaly.”
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“LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA: WHY IT'S A BAD TITLE

I admit that "Love in the time of . . ." is a great title, up to a point. You're reading along, you're happy, it's about love. I like the way the word time comes in - a nice, nice feeling. Then the morbid Cholera appears. I was happy till then. Why not "Love in the Time of the Blue, Blue, Bluebirds"? "Love in the Time of Oozing Sores and Pustules" is probably an earlier title the author used as he was writing in a rat-infested tree house on an old Smith Corona. This writer, whoever he is, could have used a couple of weeks in Pacific Daylight Time.”
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