Main image
1st December
2010
written by Steph

What a beautiful thing it is...

If you're at all like me, you've probably never taken Steve Martin as an author very seriously. I mean, am I really meant to believe that a man who willingly stars in Cheaper By The Dozen is capable of writing quality literature? Actually, as it turns out, the answer is a resounding: Hell yes! I know that many bloggers have been charmed by Martin's previous novella, Shopgirl, but I admit I never felt I needed to read it despite their praise. Now, I'm going to do something I pretty much never do and say that I was wrong. Because while I can't say anything about the merits of Shopgirl as I still haven't read it, I can say that An Object of Beauty, Martin's latest literary offering is a damn good read. More than just a pretty cover, this book is a fascinating (if fictional) trek through the rise and fall of Lacey Yeager and the New York art scene, something I didn't think I cared about, but apparently I do. And you will too if you read this book! Because it is really good! It's definitely got an old-fashioned vibe to it, but doesn't feel dated or stodgy, just like one of those books that's a walloping good read in the great American literary tradition. I liked An Object of Beauty so much that it is actually BookPage's top pick for the month of December! For more gushing, you can read my full review online here. I compare it to The Great Gatsby, and not in a hyperbolic way. This is one 2010 book that you do not want to miss out on!

29 Comments

  1. 12/01/2010

    Huh. Who whoulda thought? I actually wondered what tricks Steve Martin had up his sleeve after watching Shopgirl, but I didn’t feel compelled to find out. Now I kind of do. Walloping good read? I’m excited because you’re so excited! 🙂

  2. 12/01/2010

    AH! I didn’t realize Steve Martin had a new book out! I LOVED Shopgirl, thought The Pleasure of My Company was okay, but I liked it enough to really want to read his next book. Woo! I’m sending an email now to my husband that he better pick this up for Christmas OR ELSE.

  3. I didn’t know Steve Martin wrote books! I love your enthusiasm and will ensure I pick up a copy if I see it in the library 🙂

  4. 12/01/2010

    I didn’t realize his books were literary. I thought they were more like other celeb books…

  5. 12/01/2010

    Glad you liked. I enjoyed both Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company.

  6. Eva
    12/01/2010

    I really liked the film of Shopgirl, so I haven’t bothered to read the book. But you’ve got me curious about this one!

  7. 12/02/2010

    @ Sarah: I know! I was so shocked, but in the best possible way! Now I’m all: Bring on more Martin!
     
    @ trish: So you’re one of those people who have known what a gift Martin is all this time! I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one, it’s so good! And a great Xmas present, for sure!
     
    @ Jackie: I knew he wrote books, but didn’t really care… now I do! 😀
     
    @ Amanda: Yes, I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t expect such a high caliber book. It sounds so silly to say Martin writes like a real author, but he really does!
     
    @ charley: I now have a copy of Shopgirl and I’m really looking forward to reading it soon!
     
    @ Eva: I actually haven’t seen the film Shopgirl (if you can believe it!), but now I’m really excited to try both the book and the movie (probably in that order). I think there’s a lot about this book you’d find interesting, so I do hope you give it a go!

  8. 12/01/2010

    A new book and author for me. Thanks for this review.

  9. 12/01/2010

    I have seen this book before you told me about it, but wasn’t sure if it’s the same Steve Martin! After talking with you about the book *in person*, I’ve decided to pick it up. Enough to convince me when you say it’s a damn good read.

  10. 12/01/2010

    I really liked Shopgirl when it came out, though I wsa skeptical as well. He writes in what I can only describe as a very quiet style. It is understated but good.

    I will definitely be adding this to my list. Great gushing review. 🙂

  11. Pam
    12/02/2010

    Like you, I have had a hard time taking him seriously as an author so I’m sort of pleased to see this book getting such great reviews. Yay!

  12. 12/02/2010

    Wow, Steph! You make this sound like such a fantastic must read that I have added it to my wish list for Christmas. I’m exicted to read it – thanks! I’ve never read his other works, but I did see the film version of Shopgirl and that was interesting. However, this book does sound intriguing – I love it when a book that is about something that you never thought you would care about turns into something that truly captures your interest – that equals a very good read!

    By the by, saw the photos and read the post on Matt’s blog about your trip to San Fran – looked like so much fun!

  13. 12/02/2010

    When I first read the title I thought “look, an author with the same name as the comedian!”. I’m glad you reviewed this one, because I didn’t even know Martin was also and author, and by your description this seems right up my alley. It will be perfect for the fiction part of my “Art Business” theme for the “One, Two, Theme” Challenge.

    Does he put a lot of humor in the novel? It must be tempting!

    PS: Love the cover too!

  14. 12/02/2010

    I am one of the people who loved Shopgirl, and I have this book on my shelf as well. I find Martin’s writing to be incredibly well executed, and I can’t wait to read this one and see what he does with it. I am so glad to hear that you loved it so much, and am off to check out your feature review!

  15. 12/02/2010

    @ Mystica: I love when I discover a new author who positively thrills me! I hope you feel the same!
     
    @ Matt: I really really liked this book, so I hope you feel similarly! It’s funny that so many people saw the name “Steve Martin” but didn’t realize it was the one and the same!
     
    @ jenn: Yes, there is a quietness to Martin’s writing that is both surprising but also really refined. I appreciated it a lot; actually, I was blown away by his talent! Can’t wait to read more by him!
     
    @ Pam: Thanks for commenting! I realize I shouldn’t allow my knowledge of an author’s personal/other life influence my reading decisions, but it’s really hard not to! I really hated Cheaper By The Dozen… 😉
     
    @ Nadia: I definitely think this will be a great book to find underneath the tree on Xmas morning! Normally I toss my galley copies when done with them, but this one I’m saving for sure!
    Also, we’ll have a post up soon about our SF trip (including our own pictures of Matt! 😉 ).
     
    @ Alex: This would absolutely be perfect for your Art Business theme! There isn’t a lot of humor, it’s definitely more serious, but it’s really very good. And yes, the cover is gorgeous!
     
    @ zibilee: I should have been listening to you about Shopgirl all along! 😀 I really was so shocked at how artful and masterful Martin’s writing was here, so I’m sure you’ll love this one too. I’m definitely going to be reading his other works very soon!

  16. Lu
    12/02/2010

    I really didn’t like Shopgirl, but I do really like Steve Martin, so I’d be willing to read another of his books.

  17. 12/02/2010

    Whoa. Your assumptions about Martin’s writing were the same as mine currently are. I guess this one is getting added to the TBR list!

  18. 12/03/2010

    I have a great respect for Steve Martin (particularly his banjo playing!)and its no surprise to me that he has turned out to be a fine author too. I’ve read favorable reviews of this over here in the UK and must get hold of a copy

  19. 12/03/2010

    @ Lu: I’ve not read Shopgirl so I can’t say how this compares but I get the sense that Martin is doing something quite different here. In either case, I really really liked this book, so I think it would be worth giving it a try!
     
    @ Erin: I was so glad to be proven wrong here! It’s not just that this book was decent, it was really very good! Well worth trying!
     
    @ Tom C: I’ve not heard Martin’s banjo playing but know he’s won awards for it, so he has my respect for that (I’d love to be able to play the banjo!)… You really should pick this book up when you get the chance; it’s awesome!

  20. 12/03/2010

    Wonderful short review, Steph! I read Steve Martin’s ‘Shopgirl’ sometime back and loved it! I loved your comment – “It’s definitely got an old-fashioned vibe to it, but doesn’t feel dated or stodgy” 🙂 I felt the same way when I read ‘Shopgirl’. I read your review in ‘BookPage’ too and it is beautiful!

    Thanks for your wonderful reviews! I will add to my ‘TBR’ list and will look for it 🙂

  21. 12/06/2010

    @ Vishy: I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Shopgirl so much! I’m now really curious to read it because I liked this one so much!
     
    @ Dorothy: I’m curious to read Shopgirl and see in which ways it is similar to this one… I feel like it’s probably quite different, but I have no actual basis for such a claim!

  22. 12/05/2010

    I didn’t love Shopgirl, but I know lots of people did, so maybe that’s just me. I just heard an interview with Martin that was really interesting — I was surprised at how intelligent and cultured he sounded.

  23. 12/09/2010

    Steve Martin’s books are good? in a quiet, understated way, without comedy? Who would have thought it?

    You have really sparked my curiosity about his books now 🙂

  24. 12/10/2010

    Well I must admit, I am surprised. I was one who scoffed at Steve Martin as an author. I’m impressed to hear the book is a good one and will definitely keep it in mind for a future read. He’s obviously a multi-talented man!

  25. 12/10/2010

    @ Nishita: Your surprise is my surprise! I had no idea what to expect going in, but the last thing I expected was what I got, and I loved what I got. You really need to try something by him!
     
    @ Kathleen: Yes, clearly Martin is a man of many talents. Put me in the column with all those who are insanely jealous of him.

  26. 12/29/2010

    Yay! I am so glad to hear you loved An Object of Beauty. I haven’t been reading blogs lately so had no idea he had a new book out but accidentally saw this at WalMart and was instantly tempted. Looking forward to reading it in the new year! Very much! Happy holidays! xx

  27. 01/03/2011

    @ claire: I am now so excited to read Shopgirl, which I remember you recommending ages ago. I really think you will love Object of Beauty, so I hope you do get your hands on a copy!

  28. […] on me, I didn’t even know he was also a writer until Steph’s review. This book was the perfect choice for my Art Restoration & Business theme (One, […]

Leave a Reply