I first discovered Steve Martin’s writing back in high school when a friend of mine gave me Pure Drivel for my birthday. It was the funniest thing I’d ever read at the time and fit right into my conception of Steve Martin and what he does- funny guy, right? It wasn’t until I read Cruel Shoes that my concept of Steve Martin got turned on its head.
To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t get Cruel Shoes. Reading up on it I learned that the scenarios and stories in that book were derived far more from his college studies of philosophy than on the situational comedy I saw of him on SNL and his movies. I concluded that I just didn’t know enough philosophy to get the stories and questioned the several other books I’d already gotten from my wish list.
Which is why it’s only now, over a year since Cruel Shoes, that I’m willing to try again. The name of the book is "The Pleasure of My Company" and it tells the story of a young neurotic man living in L.A. trying to overcome what sounds like a pretty severe case of agorophobia. At least that's the tagline.
I have hope that I’ll get this, for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a novel rather than a collection of short stories so the characters will remain pretty consistent (I assume). Secondly, it’s described as “gentle” by more than one reviewer on the back cover. I find this word terribly reassuring. And third, it was written only ten years ago as opposed to the 36 years it’s been since Cruel Shoes. I think his humor has maybe mellowed a little bit in that time, become a little more accessible, maybe? I hope so.