Pleasure of My Company

( 64 )

Overview

Daniel Pecan Cambridge, 30, 35, 38, or 27, depending on how he feels that day, is a young man whose life is rich and full, provided he never leaves his Santa Monica apartment. After all, outside there are 8-inch-high curbs and there's always the horrible chance he might see a gas station attendant wearing a blue hat. So, except for the occasional trip to the Rite Aid to admire the California girl Zandy and to buy earplugs because they're on sale, he stays home a lot. And a good thing too, or he would have never ...
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The Pleasure of My Company: A Novel

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Overview

Daniel Pecan Cambridge, 30, 35, 38, or 27, depending on how he feels that day, is a young man whose life is rich and full, provided he never leaves his Santa Monica apartment. After all, outside there are 8-inch-high curbs and there's always the horrible chance he might see a gas station attendant wearing a blue hat. So, except for the occasional trip to the Rite Aid to admire the California girl Zandy and to buy earplugs because they're on sale, he stays home a lot. And a good thing too, or he would have never been falsely implicated in a murder, never almost seduced Philip, never done the impossible task of jogging around the block with Brian, never ironed his pillows, and he might never have won the Most Average American essay contest. The Pleasure of My Company is the chronicle of a modern-day neurotic yearning to break free.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Celebrated comedian and actor Steve Martin follows his critically acclaimed first novella, Shopgirl, with this endearing tale of a lonely, tic-ridden man who is transformed by the miracle of love from a passive spectator to an active participant in life. A slave to his obsessive-compulsive disorder, Daniel Pecan Cambridge is a young recluse whose lonely, pathologically structured existence is unexpectedly turned around by Clarissa, a psychiatry student and social worker who's been studying his complex peculiarities. When her abusive ex-husband tries to take away her son, Teddy, Daniel steps in to protect the boy. From this single, uncharacteristic moment of courage and involvement, Daniel soon grows to care deeply for Clarissa and Teddy, until they bothe become an essential part of his life.

With this second novella, Martin proves himself a master of the genre. He develops the relationship between Daniel and Clarissa slowly and carefully, exhibiting real affection for his flawed but lovable characters and combining vivid, realistic detail with imaginative and thoughtful ruminations on the nature of truth, society, and family. Insightful, rich, and subtly satirical, The Pleasure of My Company is a charming tale of love that will delight readers. Tom Piccirilli

Library Journal
Martin’s characters are sweet, sad, and gently oddballs He is adept at painting vivid metaphors a pleasure to read.
Kirkus Review
A genuinely funny and surprisingly touching tale. As compassionate as it is funny.
Publishers Weekly
A complex mix of wit, poignancy, and Martin's clear, great affection for his characters.
Kevin Sampsell
Martin's writing shows enormous depth and grace.
Denver Post
The Washington Post
… witty and well-tuned. — Louis Bayard
Carole Goldberg
A charmingly funny and touchingly wistful story . . . [Martin] makes this flawed man believable and sympathetic, endearing even when exasperating.
Oakland Tribune
Entertainment Weekly
A sweet, symmetrical story of love and ‘the quiet heart’.
People
His Martin’s gifts for subtlety and slyness compare to those of the finest comic novelists.
Booklist
Martin’s first novel, Shopgirl, was charming and clever, and his second is even more accomplished.
New York Times Book Review
A few of the episodes build to moments of hilarity, and Martin’s gift for comedic metaphor is uniquely his own.
Kristine Huntley
Martin's trademark humor is guaranteed to have readers laughing hard.
Booklist
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. Agent, Esther Newberg. 250,000 first printing; major ad/promo, including Today Show appearance. (Oct. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Readers unfamiliar with Martin's previous novella, Shopgirl, may be surprised to find that the comic actor is a decidedly serious author. Rather than wild-and-crazy attention-getters, Martin's literary characters are sweet, sad, and gentle oddballs. Daniel is a thirtysomething former cryptanalyst whose neuroses keep him isolated in his Santa Monica apartment, observing but rarely participating in the world around him. His hang-ups about crossing streets lead him on highly circuitous routes to Rite-Aid, where he goes to ogle his favorite pharmacist surreptitiously. To head off panic attacks, he fabricates massive "magic squares"-the mathematical puzzles favored by Ben Franklin. Daniel's quiet days are broken only by erratic check-ins from an understanding grandmother and biweekly visits from a student psychologist named Clarissa. It is through Daniel's growing relationship with Clarissa and her toddler son that he finally begins to come out of his head and into the world. Martin is adept at painting vivid metaphors; scenes where Daniel thwarts Clarissa's attempts to analyze him are particularly deft. A pleasure to read; recommended for all libraries.-Christine Perkins, Burlington P.L., WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The lighter side of obsessive-compulsive behavior. What a joy the novella is. It may not be the best deal out there in terms of dollars-per-page, but many authors would give better value if they realized they had only a long story's worth of material and stuck to it. Martin's second short fiction (after Shopgirl, 2000) is an impressively economical and yet by no means limited piece of light comedy. Although Daniel Cambridge doesn't have a job, he keeps himself pretty busy. See, Daniel is chock-full of obsessive little tics that would drive the ordinary person insane. For instance, the combined wattage of all the lights turned on his Santa Monica apartment at any one time must be 1125, and he often leaves his apartment (not stepping off curbs) for the sole purpose of satisfying his need to touch the corner of every copying machine at Kinko's. Daniel also has an elaborate fantasy life involving women he sees passing his window. Fortunately, his grandmother back in Texas sends him money every so often: "She is the one family member who understands that my insanity is benign and that my failure to hold a job is not due to laziness." As always in stories about a closed-off neurotic of this kind, the world in all its chaotic glory must come crashing into his life in multiple ways, first in Daniel's sputtering imaginary relationship with a local real-estate lady and then something much more tangible with Clarissa, his social worker. Although Martin succumbs to a banal plot choice later on, when his neurotic goes on a road trip, this is a genuinely funny and surprisingly touching tale. By letting Daniel speak for himself, the author enables the reader to experience his neuroses from the insideand to witness them as the strangely reassuring, though assuredly life-limiting, rituals that they are. As compassionate as it is funny, and never overstays its welcome. Agent: Esther Newberg/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641692024
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 10/15/2004
  • Pages: 163
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 7.78 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Martin is a celebrated writer, actor, and performer. His film credits include Father of the Bride, Parenthood and The Spanish Prisoner, as well as Roxanne, L.A. Story, and Bowfinger, for which he also wrote the screenplays. He's won Emmys for his television writing and two Grammys for comedy albums. In addition to a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, he has written a bestselling collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, and a bestselling novella, Shopgirl. His work appears frequently in The New Yorker and The New York Times. He lives in New York and Los Angeles.

Biography

"If Woody Allen is the archetypal East Coast neurotic, Steve Martin is the ultimate West Coast wacko," Maureen Orth wrote for Newsweek in 1977. At the time, Martin was a star on the standup comedy circuit, known for his nose glasses, bunny ears and sudden attacks of "happy feet." More than 20 years later, the idea that the two are counterparts still seems apt: Like Woody Allen, Steve Martin has gone from comedy writer and performer to scriptwriter, director, playwright and book author. But while Woody Allen's transformation from angst-ridden intellectual into Bergman-inspired auteur was something fans might have anticipated, who would have guessed that the wild and crazy guy with the arrow through his head harbored a passion for philosophy, art and literature?

Growing up in Orange County, California, Martin worked afternoons, weekends and summers at Disneyland, where he learned to do magic tricks, make balloon animals and perform vaudeville routines. By the time he was 18, he was performing at Knott's Berry Farm while attending junior college. He was a bright but unenthusiastic student until a girlfriend (and her loan of Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge) inspired him to transfer to Long Beach State and major in philosophy. There, he delved into metaphysics, semantics and logic before concluding that he was meant for the arts. He transferred again, to the theater department at UCLA, and started performing comedy in local clubs. Truth in art, he later said, "can't be measured. You don't have to explain why, or justify anything. If it works, it works. As a performer, non sequiturs make sense, nonsense is real." (Aha -- there was a philosophical impulse behind those bunny ears.)

After a string of successful T.V. comedy-writing gigs, Martin got back into performing, and a few years later, he was landing spots on "The Tonight Show" and guest-hosting "Saturday Night Live," where he performed his famous King Tut routine. His first album, Let's Get Small, won a Grammy and was the best-selling comedy album of 1977. His first book, Cruel Shoes, was a collection of comic vignettes with titles like "How to Fold Soup" and "The Vengeful Curtain Rod." And his starring role in The Jerk kicked off a highly successful film career that includes more than 20 hit movies, including Roxanne and L.A. Story, both of which Martin wrote and directed.

Early on, critics classed Steve Martin with comedians like Martin Mull and Chevy Chase -- goofy white guys whose slapstick comedy had no overt political message, though it might have a postmodern touch of self-critique. But Martin kept scaling the heights of absurdity until he'd reached an altitude all his own. Beginning in 1994, he took two years off from movie acting to concentrate on his writing. The result was Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a surreal comedy about Picasso and Einstein that won critical and popular acclaim: "More laughs, more fun and more delight than anything currently on the New York stage," raved The New York Observer.

Though Martin went back to the movies, he also kept on writing, turning out several more plays and a series of ingeniously demented essays for The New Yorker and The New York Times, many of which are collected in book form in Pure Drivel. Then, in 2000, he surprised readers with his bestselling book Shopgirl, a tender, insightful novella about a Neiman Marcus clerk and her two suitors. These days, Martin is recognized as a "gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic" (Elle). He's also been tapped to host ceremonies for the prestigious National Book Awards. It seems the man who once defined comedy as "acting stupid so other people can laugh" is in fact one of the smartest guys ever to emerge from L.A.

Good To Know

As a stand-up comedian on "The Tonight Show", Martin was demoted to guest-host nights for a while because Johnny Carson didn't think his act -- which could include reading from the phone book or telling jokes to four dogs onstage -- was funny.

After he became nationally famous as a comedian, Martin joked that his new wealth had allowed him to buy "some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks, got a fur sink ... let's see ... an electric dog-polisher, a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater ... and of course I bought some dumb stuff, too." Actually, Martin is a serious art collector whose purchases include paintings and drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and David Hockney.

Martin's marriage to the actress Victoria Tennant ended in 1994. But it was his subsequent breakup with actress Anne Heche that really broke his heart, he hinted in an Esquire interview. "I spent about a year recovering, and searching out myself and asking why things happened the way they did. I wrote a play about it, Patter for the Floating Lady. Oh, I shouldn't have told you that. I should have said I made it up."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Stephen Martin (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Beverly Hills, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waco, Texas
    1. Education:
      Long Beach State College; University of California, Los Angeles
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(26)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2009

    A+

    One of the sweetest and most tender books I have ever read. Steve Martin's writing is so effortless and believable and I look forward to reading this book again someday.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    IT WASN'T EVEN FUNNY

    If you are looking for the silly humor of vintage SNL Martin this book is not for you. If you are looking for a thought provoking, engrossing, surprising, well written, touching, human story you need to get this book. It is a quick read but it is possibly one of the most well written amazingly thought provoking things I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Marting creates amazing characters that inhabit the very limited mind he has conjured into being for the main character. It is truly brilliant.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    Favorite

    Love this book! The characteristics of the main character are awesome. Steve Martin does a great job in the details. Want to see this become a movie!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    Good book!

    Very enjoyable. A quick read too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Interesting, Entertaining Read, that can be a bit hard to follow

    The Pleasure of my Company is probably the one book I've read that seemed very different from all the rest I've read. The concept behind the story (following the life of a man who "suffers" from OCD) is not something I come across often, but I liked it... a lot.

    The story is about a very intelligent man, named Daniel, who has a pretty severe case of OCD. You'll learn about his struggle to live with this problem, and how he copes with the outside world. You see him grow out of his shell, and that makes it a truly heart warming story.

    I did; however, find the story to be a little hard to follow some times. I suspect that may just be me though. There are several names in the book, and at first I had trouble keeping them straight. There were also a few parts of the story that seemed overall unnecessary (the pharmacist.) While it can help show what Daniel was like, in the end it just didn't seem like it needed to be there completely.

    All in all, this story is a great read, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a fairly relaxing read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Utterly Delighful!

    This book is absolutely marvelous! It touched me to the core and made me laugh out loud, sometimes simultaneously. Read It!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2004

    I loved this book!

    Steve Martin did not let me down with his second book! I loved the primary charater and could identify with *some* of his flaws. If you read this Steve, please keep writing!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2003

    Beautiful

    This is a beautiful story that takes you on a journey of new perspective. I never wanted it to end and when it did, I enjoyed the self-reflection it caused. BEAUTIFUL - that is all I can say!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2003

    Recommended Reading!

    This was the first book I'd read by Steve Martin, and I have to admit I was impressed. I found the book a little difficult to get into at first, but once I got started I found it hard to put down... I found the book to be very funny (laugh out loud funny), and the main character was amazing. The thought processes were great, because I find myself thinking some of the same things... Almost like a book written by the voices in your head! :o)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Heartfelt and smart

    This book is one of the best modern fiction i have read - real human folly treated with honesty and compassion

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  • Posted January 21, 2013

    Absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I enjoy St

    Absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I enjoy Steve Martin's writing very much and really enjoyed the character in the book. Highly recommend.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Quirky Character Makes for Pleasurable Read

    The story revolves around Daniel Pecan Cambridge, who has allowed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and egocentricism to define him. Daniel's life is ordinary -- albeit Daniel fancies himself extraordinary. The book is written from an narrative viewpoint, where Daniel takes an omnipotent role in projecting character traits onto strangers in an effort to create a private perfect world. Daniel is brilliant in the areas of mathematics and language -- but not so much in the area of relationships.

    This brilliance causes Daniel to over-think reality, and creates compulsions such as those necessitating that light bulb wattage be balanced within his domain, that he zig-sags from point A to point B via driveways to avoid curbs, and restricting the use of certain letters or words, and where his ego craves inclusion in Mensa -- the rejection of his application due to low test scores bruises his ego in a big way.

    The character of Daniel is more verbose than the plot -- an artistic coup. Among the mundane realities is Daniel's propensity to lie, then post-actively reinvent the lie as a truth. Daniel's character change comes with the realization that he has unmagically boxed himself into an ordinary existence upon receiving the letter from Mensa inviting him to retake the IQ test, citing human error on the scoring of the first test, It is then that Daniel realizes his ego no longer needs Mensa, because Mensa is fallible and therefore not extraordinary -- ordinary has no place in his new life.

    Daniel's character grows incrementally as demonstrated through his relationships with women. He has no patience for Philipia's dramatic obsessions, preferring to drug her rather than listen to her problems, then feels guilty for having done so. His obsession with Elizabeth ends with the realization that a woman like her would be high maintenance and, therefore, would clash with his ego. He discovers his heroic side and a sense of responsibility with Clarissa, whose neediness rather than counseling motivate him. His relationship with Granny is one of dependency, that evolves to independence -- both financial and emotional -- as a result of her death. Zandy allows Daniel to laugh at himself and his compulsions. Her independence makes her the opposite of Clarissa her practicality makes her the opposite of Elizabeth her steady disposition makes her the opposite of Philipia.

    Zandy's ability to love Daniel for who he is makes her parallel Granny in a manner that allows Daniel to finally propel himself into manhood. Zandy is ordinary, which makes her extraordinary. She is ultimately the embodiment of perfection Daniel yearns for. She is the inversion of Daniel's ego-driven "extraordinary," yet faux, self-perception. Zandy is effectively life coming full circle for Daniel. She represents the balance necessary for Daniel to finally be himself. The final line in this book, which is really the final fragment of a much longer sentence, structurally embodies Daniel while nicely summarizing this endearing story: "there were still many takers for the quiet heart." The letter "e" appears eight times. Daniel's final magic square contains eight entries containing the names of special people, surrounding a ninth entry containing the names of Zandy and their daughter, Angela. That center square is the essence of Daniel's "quiet heart."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    Hard to stop reading

    Martin is so good at developing great characters. Thi is one of those bboks that is hard to put down.

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  • Posted March 24, 2009

    Don't be fooled. Steve Martin is a serious writer.

    I am the sort of reader that needs to turn to something light every few months. Steve Martin is a good writer and should be taken seriously. This is a story of a man with OCD who is making his way through life with humor and agility. I read this not long after reading "The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night" and found "The Pleasure of My Company" similar in content but much more enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2008

    Loved it

    Hilarious and sweet. I loved this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2008

    I can't believe this isn't a movie yet

    I was hooked at the first sentence and as I was reading through I couldn't help but hear Steve Martin's voice in my head. He should have starred in this story in a movie years ago. I often check to see if he's written anything else. He is so talented!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2007

    Martin Improves in Second Novel

    Martin's second novel is a bit of an improvement over his first, but he still needs improvement to be taken seriously as a novelist. In The Pleasure of My Company, characters are more fleshed out than the dull caricatures in Shopgirl, Martin's first effort. Also, Martin didn't write himself into the book, as he so obviously did last time out with the Ray Porter character. Writing from the first-person perspective of Daniel Pecan Cambridge, the obsessive-compulsive protagonist, allows Martin to better unleash some of his droll observations on life in Southern California which seemed so out of place in the detached third-person perspective of Shopgirl. Also, Martin has learned to show action, especially conversations, instead of talking about it, even though he is still too overt with his character's feelings, not trusting his story to the telling detail. Still, with the exception of Martin's main character, most of the rest of the cast are two-dimensional props, or almost non-existent, as in the case of some family members who are not introduced at all until the final pages. The ending feels rushed, with Pecan's happily-ever-after character arc feeling a bit too pat. Like Shopgirl, it's an interesting mess, somewhat enjoyable while it lasts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2004

    Fantastic Read!

    I was very pleasantly surprised with this book! It hit all the right buttons. My husband can relate (somewhat) with this character, which made me laugh and CRY!! Must read - pure pleasure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2004

    Great read, I didn't want it to end

    This was a great story, and shows the imagination that Steve Martin has (I would have never guessed, I never really liked him as an actor). The main character is easy to relate to, I think that no matter how normal we think we are, we all have our own neurotic behaviours. I would have given it five stars, except it is too short, another two hundred pages would have been good.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2004

    A Weekend Read!

    Martin proves himself, once again, as a talented storyteller. Flawed characters are realistic ones! Wonderful! Simply wonderful!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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