Friday, January 7, 2011

Pure Drivel: Steve Martin

If you are at all acquainted with Steve Martin, you most likely know him as a funny man. He has had a very long and successful career in film as a leading man of comedy. If you are at all familiar with the world of celebrity writing, then you most likely know that Martin is also a tremendously humorous writer. His novella, Shopgirl, went on to become a delightful movie. So when I had the opportunity to pick up Pure Drivel at a deep discount, I jumped on it.

Pure Drivel is a collection of miniature essays. There are 26 essays in all, most of which have been previously published in magazine media. They are more like vignettes than essays, running the gambit between poignant and absurd. Some of them, like "Dear Amanda", which is written in the form of a series of letters from an ex-boyfriend who starts nearly every letter with the phrase "this is the last letter I'm going to write to you", are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Especially if you are able to read them and hear Martin's voice with his droll wit. Some, like "Michael Jackson's Old Face" are narrated with a dry kind of humor that is actually a bit sad and retrospective. I take a private, snobbish appreciation of the essays titled "The Nature of Matter and Its Antecedents", "The Paparazzi of Plato", "How I Joined Mensa", and "Lolita At Fifty", simply because they make it clear that Martin and I share a useless knowledge of over-played literature.

Steve Martin's writing is thoroughly enjoyable. He is simultaneously erudite and pedestrian, humorous and depressing. I read this slim collection in a single day, but I can see the great value of reading each essay individually, on it's own time, so that it fully sinks in.

Rating: $$$

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