This probably gets an extra star for my undying love for Steve Martin.
When I was a kid, I had three heroes: Han Solo, Kermit the Frog, and Steve MartThis probably gets an extra star for my undying love for Steve Martin.
When I was a kid, I had three heroes: Han Solo, Kermit the Frog, and Steve Martin. Two of them are fictional, so only one can tell his life story, and damn, he f'n did it. It's a story of perseverance, and how to persevere under what I would call whelming odds. Not overwhelming, but enough that you might see where he would want to pack it in. Sometimes.
I love his approach to this book. He doesn't really write too much about personal matters, he writes mainly about the work that it took to make him an overnight sensation. From 15, he's taking notes on what jokes were working and what jokes weren't, he pares away at jokes that he loves for the sake of the audience, which grows from nothing to success (3,000 people for a comedian, pretty f'n good) to enormous success (25,000 people--the population of many major cities in the 70s). All the way through it, he maintains that certain guilelessness that makes Steve Martin likable in his many guises, as an arrogant performer that his Wild and Crazy Guys days or his clueless father in his later years (and we're going on 20 years of that).
It's strange, because with all of the 70's and 80's comedians I've admired (Bill Hicks and Andy Kaufman not really accountable, because they died too young [besides Andy Kaufman in Heartbeeps which really did suck]) Steve Martin escapes without much negative scrutiny, because he has made such great albums, appearances, and films--and The Jerk, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, The Man with Two Brains, Roxanne, and Parenthood are going to last, while Bringing Down the House and whatever remake he's made will fade away--but Steve Martin is the same--funny, generally kind-hearted, yet arrogant and estranged.
If I didn't have to read this for a class, I probably wouldn't have finished it. A friend of mine put it perfectly when she said, "Every time I pick uIf I didn't have to read this for a class, I probably wouldn't have finished it. A friend of mine put it perfectly when she said, "Every time I pick up this book and read a little, I want to throw it against the wall." That pretty much sums it up. Lawrence's hero, Birkin, is about as irritating as a man can be. When he gets clobbered over the head with the paperweight, I wished it was me doing the clobbering. (I doubt I'm spoiling anything, because most people probably shouldn't read it, and if you do, you'll probably agree.)
I did end up loving it in the end. I have no idea why. Birkin is a shit, almost every line he has in the book is lifted from Freud or Baudelaire. His buddy Gerald is worse, a privileged heir to a coal mining fortune. Where Birkin moralizes, Gerald is amoral. The women are practically absent, even though this is their sequel and the title makes one think, "Hey, this'll be about women in love." It's not. It's about two men who are in love and the women who tolerate them.
Possibly, I loved this book because it is a fairly effective parody of British society romances, such as Pride and Prejudice. I don't know. Maybe it's because I love to hate the Modernist movement, and this is possibly the apex of British Modernism. ...more