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The Pleasure of My Company Paperback – July 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

Readers expecting something zany, something crudely humorous from Steve Martin's second novel, The Pleasure of My Company, will discover much greater riches. While the book has a sense of humor, Martin moves everywhere with a gentler, lighter touch in this elegant little fiction that verges on the profound and poetic.

Daniel Pecan Cambridge is the narrator and central consciousness of the novel (actually a novella). Daniel, an ex-Hewlett-Packard communiqué encoder, is a savant whose closely proscribed world is bounded on every side by neuroses and obsessions. He cannot cross the street except at driveways symmetrically opposed to each, and he cannot sleep unless the wattage of the active light bulbs in his apartment sums to 1,125. Daniel's starved social life is punctuated by twice-weekly visits from a young therapist in training, Clarissa; by his prescription pick-ups from a Rite Aid pharmacist, Zandy; and by his "casual" meetings with the bleach-blond real estate agent, Elizabeth, who is struggling to sell apartments across the street. But Daniel's dysfunctional routines are shattered one day when he becomes entangled in the chaos of Clarissa's life as a single mother. Taking care of Clarissa's tiny son, Teddy, Daniel begins to emerge from the safety of logic, magic squares, and obsessive counting.

Martin's craftsmanship is remarkable. The tightly packed novella paints rich portraits with restraint and balance, including nothing extraneous to Daniel's world. The book does not try for pyrotechnics but is contented with a Zen-like simplicity in both prose and plot. Avoiding the crushing bleakness of much contemporary fiction, Martin insists through Daniel--a man haunted by horrors of his own making--that there is possibility for compassion, that broken lives can actually be healed. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Martin's first novella, Shopgirl (2000), was a revelation, a compassionate yet cool, meticulously crafted tale of a young woman's affair with an older, successful man not what most readers were expecting from the famed comic actor and author of Pure Drivel. Martin's second novella continues the enjoyment, offering another story with a conscience, one funnier than Shopgirl but put together just as smartly, if very differently. Martin forgoes the distanced omniscient narration of Shopgirl by plunking readers into the head of one the odder yet more charming protagonists in recent fiction, Daniel Pecan Cambridge, a gentle soul suffering from a mild mix of autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Daniel, 33, lives in a rundown Santa Monica apartment, his life constricted by an armor of defensive habit (all the lightbulbs in his apartment must equal 1,125 watts; he can't step over curbs so can cross streets only where two opposing driveways align, etc.), his dull days punctuated only by imagined romances and visits by his student social worker, lovely and kind Clarissa. Daniel's ways (a product of child abuse, Martin shows with subtlety) are challenged when Clarissa and her infant son, Teddy, move in to escape an abusive husband; when Daniel wins a contest as "Most Average American" and must give a speech to claim the $5,000 prize; and when his beloved grandmother dies, sending him on a road trip of discovery back home. This novella is a delight, embodying a satisfying story arc, a jeweler's eye for detail, intelligent pacing and a clean, sturdy prose style. What's most remarkable about it, though, is its tenderness, a complex mix of wit, poignancy and Martin's clear, great affection for his characters. Many readers are going to love this brief, big-hearted book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ) (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753817683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753817681
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (262 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,938,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Wonderful, funny, sweet story!
Zena Jones
I laughed out loud and found myself grinning as I read this book.
Joe M.
This is the third copy I have bought of this audio book.
J Dubb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Robert Wellen on December 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed Shopgirl, but fell in love with the Pleasure of My Company. I often hestiate to buy a novel in hard cover (one might call me budget conscious? ) that is this short--however, it worth it. I read the book in just a few hours, but it will stay with me for a long time. Daniel is a wonderful, warm, and slightly sad character. I loved the first person narration. Daniel is obsessive-complusive and Martin nails down his inner life. His hilarious attempts at romance, his nutty essay, his road trips are all spiced with humor and a twinge of realism. Martin's writing is warm and honest. The ending is so wonderful, it might move you to tears (I will say no more so as not to ruin it). I was quite impressed by a modern man who works to solve his own problems instead of blaming others (his attempts at therapy are also humorous). Martin dispels, intentionally or not, so much of our addiction based culture. Daniel learns strength and tries to conquer the world on his own terms--with a quiet heart. A beautiful little story. Martin is fantastic.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh VINE VOICE on February 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
All seems to be going well for Steve Martin these days. His movie career continues apace with the occasional hit and he continues to develop as an author. The Pleasure of My Company is a distinct improvement over his debut story, Shopgirl.
Though not noticeably longer, The Pleasure of My Company gets tagged "a novel" whereas Shopgirl was "a novella;" still, I'm willing to forgive since this book has the depth. Martin has made a wise move by focusing on a single character, Daniel, this time around. Martin's main talent lies in characterization and wry commentary and Daniel gives him an opportunity to do both. This streamlines the story and makes it much more interesting.
Daniel is a mentally disturbed young man whose ability to leave his apartment is very limited because of his obsessions and phobias--his inability to step off of curbs, for instance, or his obsession with thinking of things in terms of magic squares. Still, he attempts to reach out to the world around him: entering essay contests, joining MENSA, trying to meet the realtor across the street or the pharmacist at the Rite-Aid. Eventually, as his obsessions shift and he gets a little luck, his world begins to open up.
Admittedly, I'm a little tired of the mentally disturbed protagonist but Daniel is an engaging character mainly because he is basically a nice guy and he struggles to overcome his problems instead of giving into them. And the observations of the unbalanced often hold more truth than the lives of the "normal." Though there is nothing mind-bendingly fantastic here, this brief read is a good one.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By N. Gargano VINE VOICE on October 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, and I must say, while I was reading it, I kept saying to myself.."I can't believe how talented Mr. Martin is." I have always been a big fan of his,and I really enjoyed his first book, the Shopgirl. But something about this one grabbed me even more than his first, and I read it without putting it down, I was so involved with Daniel,the main character, and his life.
I have to admit, at first I felt a little guilty laughing at the main character's behaviors, but then I decided I wasn't laughing at him, kind of with him. I started thinking about the things I do that are strange, (I won't go into them here, anybody that knows me, feel free to ask, I'll explain), and realised I am just lucky any strange behaviors on my part have not been the kind to interfere with my leading what some people call a "normal"life. Then after I got over my guilt, I allowed myself to laugh at everything I found funny, which was a good thing, I laughed out loud quite a lot.I also had a couple of places with some tears. So what I am trying to say is, read this book and enjoy. I will probably read it again one day, just because I enjoyed it so much, and I am finding that I really miss Daniel.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Steve Martin seems to have really hit the nail on the head concerning the struggles of dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorders and neuroses in this book. Given, some of the compulsions might seem a bit unrealistic, but most compulsions in truth are just that. Being able to watch a person fight everyday life in a struggle to just be is illustrated incredibly well in this book, and with a perfect blend of humor and compassion. The book might seem a bit dry at first, but it truly needs to be in order for the reader to understand the stresses that an often illogical and irrational world can place on a person who fears the illogical and irrational. As an obsessive-compulsive myself, I would like to offer my most heartfelt congratulations and thanks to the author for his just-delicate-enough handling of such a sensitive subject matter. This book truly proves that Steve Martin is too brilliant of a man to be restricted to one form of media. If I could give this more than five stars, I would.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Brian H. Christ on November 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ok, I'll admit it! I picked up this book because I love Steve Martin's comedy. I think his stand-up is great, I've always enjoyed his movies, and Pure Drivel -- his collection of comedic essays -- is one for the ages.
This book is a little different. There are still some extremely humorous passages, usually focused around the main character's neuroses. These comedy bits are right on, and every bit as entertaining as the neuroses of the characters Steve Martin brings to life in his movies.
In addition to these bits, there is also a tragic story of an obsessive compulsive man trapped in his apartment by his own fears. This story is infinitely deeper, darker, and even a little scary. Martin does a great job of explaining how these problems developed by an examination of the man's past, but I'm still left wondering about the manner in which the problems were solved. Though "love conquers all" is a charming thought and a great movie plot, I'm not sure it would conquer problems as quickly and cleanly as it does in this book. (Though, who knows, maybe I just haven't met the right person. ;) )
Overall, though, a highly entertaining read.
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