I have loved Steve Martin ever since I watched him fall into the MacKenzie Family's pool in Father of the Bride. And though I knew he was reviewed favorably for his novella Shopgirl—praised as "a serious, intimate, rather dark comedy of manners" in BookPage—I know I have never really taken Martin seriously as a fiction writer.
Enter An Object of Beauty, which went on sale last week.
This novel "chronicles the rise and fall of a determined dreamer whose aspirations are larger than life," according to reviewer Stephenie Harrison—who went on to characterize the work as being "in the tradition of the great American novel" and mentioned Martin alongside Henry James and Edith Wharton. (Don't believe anyone could make such a statement? You've got to read it to believe it.)
Well, Martin did read it, and he shared the review with the world via this tweet:
In the past day or so, you might have heard some online grumbling about Martin's appearance at the 92nd Street Y, where Monday night he was interviewed by New York Times Magazine Q&A columnist Deborah Solomon. Solomon, a former art critic, asked Martin extensively about the art world (the backdrop for An Object of Beauty)—but apparently the conversation was not satisfactory for some members of the audience who wanted to hear more about Martin's career (i.e. showbiz). Solomon was asked to change the course of her questions mid-interview.
The Y's Director of Media Relations said in an e-mail that “the evening with Martin and Solomon just didn’t gel," and all in attendance have been offered a $50 gift certificate to be used at the Y in the future. Since then, Martin has tweeted:
(Does this episode not sound like it belongs in a book?)
I apologize for providing all of this background information to those of you who have already been following the kerfuffle, but all this is to make the point that BookPage's reviewer very much enjoyed the discussion of art in the novel.
Or, in her words:
Even if you don’t know your Monet from your Manet, much of what Martin writes—like the evanescent American dream—is universal in its appeal.
Anyone had a chance to read An Object of Beauty?