Jamie's Reviews > An Object of Beauty

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
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Dec 31, 10

bookshelves: the-lighter-side
Read from December 29 to 31, 2010

I really and truly enjoyed this book, even with its flaws. I was continually amazed by how I was able to forget until I closed it between the stolen 15 or 20 minute gaps that I had to read it that Steve Martin's name was on the cover. Despite not really caring for the main character, I genuinely cared for the story.

Disclosure: I'm an art geek. I didn't really become one until I moved to Chicago, but I'm full-on, no questions about it, an art geek. I was fascinated with the ease of Martin's writing about art, his ability to give exposition about an artist without boring me. This book is so knowledgeable about the art world, and I'm still intrigued to know how much he knew versus how much he had to research. I just wonder if it read the same for a non-art dork. Granted, he won me over with his early loving description of de Kooning, who is without question my favorite artist (who I have read a few paragraphs this year about which have praised him so highly that it felt like someone was praising me for loving him so). That Martin can write about a woman's appreciation for de Kooning is a testament to his talent. That he turns from writing about a semi-obscure artist like de Kooning only to give equal face time to Warhol (who I would assume most people know already) is a little strange.

I was a little put off by the narrator, who is put forth as the main character Lacey's friend, who is writing about her for a reason that is initially unknown. At first he seems unnecessary and strangely invasive to the plot, but then there is an almost imperceptible shift and the story becomes about him, and when I finally learned his reason for writing this story (which doesn't come until literally the last few pages), I was pleasantly surprised to be rooting for him.

My only major qualm with the book is the way that Martin inserts major events in the history of the last decade in order to precipitate huge changes in Lacey's life and fortune. One of these events having a major impact on her life would have been annoying. To put in both actually made me roll my eyes. To have openings of galleries and openings of huge shows BOTH happen within days of enormous historical events seems a little lazy, and I will just say that I'm very, VERY tired of writers foreshadowing 9/11 in casual ways (*cough Paul Auster *cough) to push forward plots.

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Reading Progress

12/29/2010 page 22
7.0% "Reading the galley, so it's missing the artwork that the published version has. Jury's still out on whether than will be a problem. Martin is, so far, very smart about the art world." 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Erin Quinney It's my understanding that Steve Martin is an avid art collector. If I'm not mistaken, the art world also factors into Shop Girl. I might be mistaken since it's been a while since I read it. It is odd to read something "serious" from Steve Martin, isn't it?


Gail Loved this too. I just finished his novella, "Pleasure of my Company" and there were parts to it I loved - particularly the ending. It's such a fast read, I recommend if you haven't read it already.


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