Tony Heyl's Reviews > An Object of Beauty

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
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Nov 23, 2011

really liked it

Since it's by Steve Martin, you might think it's a comedy, but it's not, though there are a few funny lines in there. The story is about a young woman who works her way up in the art world as told by a friend of hers, but what makes this not just good is the descriptions of people, the art world, and the world generally, as well as some wonderful but sometimes subtle themes. It becomes apparent that one theme is taking a piece of art and turning it from an object of beauty to an object of monetary value. In the end, that's how the world works, with beauty coming down to shared value that can be measured in dollars or the crowd of people. However, once you really let yourself be immersed by the book, which I think you can easily do by the pace of the storytelling, you can see how missing the many objects of beauty in life, or of life itself, happens on a near constant basis. Martin does a great job of telling this in a time frame that includes New York City as not just a setting but a character in itself, and uses 9/11 and the financial collapse of 2008 to drive home some strong ideas.

At first I thought it was just a nice story, but I ended up happily surprised by it.
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