Pure Drivel

Pure Drivel

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by Steve Martin
     
 

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Steve Martin's talent has always defied definition: a seasoned actor, a razor-sharp screenwriter, an acclaimed playwright, and, of course, the ingenious comedian who turned King Tut into a national craze. In this widely praised collection of humourous riffs, Martin shows he is also a master of the written word. From a wildly imaginative meditation on who Lolita

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Overview

Steve Martin's talent has always defied definition: a seasoned actor, a razor-sharp screenwriter, an acclaimed playwright, and, of course, the ingenious comedian who turned King Tut into a national craze. In this widely praised collection of humourous riffs, Martin shows he is also a master of the written word. From a wildly imaginative meditation on who Lolita would be at age fifty to a send-up of the warning labels on medicine bottles, these pieces, many of which first appeared in The New Yorker, hilariously and intelligently skewer the topic at hand. Pure Drivel will have readers crying with laughter—and marveling that in addition to all of his many talents, Steve Martin is also a superb writer.

Editorial Reviews

Salon
"Like the fuzzy little puff of marabou on the instep of a coquette's satin bedroom slipper . . . Martin's book of diminutive, often hilarious essays [is] . . . effortless and silly even as it's subtly erudite."
Elle
"Martin is a gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic. He is a master at revealing the surreal poetry in pure drivel."
From the Publisher
"Like the fuzzy little puff of marabou on the instep of a coquette's satin bedroom slipper . . . Martin's book of diminutive, often hilarious essays [is] . . . effortless and silly even as it's subtly erudite."—Salon"

Martin is a gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic. He is a master at revealing the surreal poetry in pure drivel."—Elle

Elle Magazine
A gorgeous writer...At once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic...A master at revealing the surreal poetry in pure drivel.
Susan Shapiro
The tone ranges from parody to irony to just plain silliness. . . .it's humor raised to the level of abstraction.
The New York Times Book Review
Devin L. Gordon
When Steve Martin writes, he really writes. . . . Martin crafts . . .essays, all tweaked with his light-bulb wit.
Newsweek
The failure of this audio performance is inexplicable, really, except as part of the mystery of what makes humor humorous.
Martin's essays, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker, simply were much funnier on the page. You'd expect that a comic's delivery would be a key part of his act, but Martin's voice just hangs there, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind. The tape virtually cries out for a laugh track.
Most of the essays bear some relationship to media, whether the subject involves a politician's mea culpa; a writers' crisis when the Times Roman font announces a shortage of periods; a dialogue among paparrazi in ancient times; or the "pure drivel" proudly narrated by the editor/publisher of the American Drivel Review.
Though deadpan, and at times silly, nothing here makes you want to laugh out loud.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These short humor pieces, many of which first appeared in the New Yorker, represent a mixed bag. While actor/ comedian/writer Martin consistently comes up with clever lines, his conceits soar only about as often as they peter out. His opening offer, "A Public Apology," takes the politician's mea culpa to deadpan, ridiculous heights: "I had sex with a hundred-and-two-year old male turtle. It would be hard to argue that it was consensual." But the next piece, "Writing is Easy!" contains such clunkers as "Naked Belligerent Panties" as a recommended topic for up-and-coming writers. Martin's zones of inquiry include science, language, show biz and, of course, mating. Among the stand-outs: "Dear Amanda" recounts the belles lettres of mannerly stalker; "Taping My Friends" trips into a paranoid universe; "I Love Loosely" brings Lucy & Ricky to the "oral sex isn't sex debate;" and "Artist Lost to Zoloft" laments how pharmaceuticals affect the avant-garde. But the title piece (okay, it's just called "Drivel"), which concerns a duo linked by hyper-conscious irony, shows Martin straining for laughs. (Sept.)
Kelly
. . .[A] worthwhile collection of spankingly inventive, though sometimes affected, farcical essays. . . .[restores] lighness to the printed page. -- New York Magazine
Kirkus Reviews
Martin (Cruel Shoes), star of stage and screen, and a guy once glimpsed with an arrow through his cranium, here toys with ink and paper. With a gathering just shy of two dozen little pieces, of which many originally appeared in the New Yorker, the comedian-actor-author offers commentary in the vein of his New Yorker forebears, S.J. Perelman, Robert Benchley, and Woody Allen. He has improved since his Cruel Shoes, arrow-in-the-head days; if he hasn't yet beaten those other worthies at their special game, Martin is at least a contender. He, like them, shows continuing evidence of linguistic hypomania, he's more than a bit mad on punctuation, words, et cetera. Like Perelman, he's also good at commentary on current and ephemeral events, like tripping up friends or relatives with clandestine recordings, or casting the roles of incumbent chief executive and first lady with Lucy and Ricky, or deconstructing a dumb remark by Marlon Brando. Especially sharp wit is brought to bear on the bicoastal drivel of showbiz luminaries, who babble of Prada leather pants in order to hide from the fans their real intellectual prowess. Certainly the Martin oeuvre is not uniform, never monotonous. True, there's a piece about an eager dog with a set-up that doesn't support the punch line, for example, but even a belabored item about a mature Lolita can offer lines like, 'Lo-lee-tah, she tongued. A column of sweat drained down the boy, and he entered puberty.' Three or so neat and nice pages even announce a shortage of periods in the Times Roman font, and the piece does indeed finally use just one of those very punctuation points. Lighter-than-air mockery. Often ingenious.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786885053
Publisher:
Hachette Book Group
Publication date:
10/06/1999
Edition description:
1 PBK ED
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
232,269
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
17 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Public Apology

Looking out over the East River from my jail cell and still running for public office, I realize that I have taken several actions in my life for which I owe public apologies.

Once, I won a supermarket sweepstakes even though my brother's cousin was a box boy in that very store. I would like to apologize to Safeway Food, Inc., and its employees. I would like to apologize to my family, who have stood by me, and especially to my wife Karen. A wiser and more loyal spouse could not be found.

When I was twenty-one, I smoked marijuana every day for one year. I would like to apologize for the next fifteen years of anxiety attacks and drug-related phobias, including the feeling that when Ed Sullivan introduced Wayne and Shuster, he was actually signaling my parents that I was high. I would like to apologize to my wife Karen, who still believes in me, and to the Marijuana Growers Association of Napa Valley and its affiliates for any embarrassment I may have caused them. I would also like to mention a little incident that took place in the Holiday Inn in Ypsilanti, Michigan, during that same time. I was lying in bed in room 342 and began counting ceiling tiles. Since the room was square, it was an easy computation, taking no longer than the weekend. As Sunday evening rolled around, I began to compute how many imaginary ceiling tiles it would take to cover the walls and floor of my room. When I checked out of the hotel, I flippantly told the clerk that it would take twelve hundred ninety-four imaginary ceiling tiles to fill the entire room.

Two weeks later, while attempting to break the record for consecutive listenings to "American Pie," I realized that I had included the real tiles in my calculation of imaginary tiles; I should have subtracted them from my total. I would like to apologize to the staff of the Holiday Inn for any inconvenience I may have caused, to the wonderful people at Universal Ceiling Tile, to my wife Karen, and to my two children, whose growth is stunted.

Several years ago, in California, I ate my first clam and said it tasted "like a gonad dipped in motor oil." I would like to apologize to Bob 'n' Betty's Clam Fiesta, and especially to Bob, who I found out later only had one testicle. I would like to apologize to the waitress June and her affiliates, and the DePaul family dog, who suffered the contents of my nauseated stomach.

There are several incidents of sexual harassment I would like to apologize for:

In 1992, I was interviewing one Ms. Anna Floyd for a secretarial position, when my pants accidentally fell down around my ankles as I was coincidentally saying, "Ever seen one of these before?" Even though I was referring to my new Pocket Tape Memo Taker, I would like to apologize to Ms. Floyd for any grief this misunderstanding might have caused her. I would also like to apologize to the Pocket Tape people, to their affiliates, and to my family, who have stood by me. I would like to apologize also to International Hardwood Designs, whose floor my pants fell upon. I would especially like to apologize to my wife Karen, whose constant understanding fills me with humility.

Once, in Hawaii, I had sex with a hundred-and-two-year-old male turtle. It would be hard to argue that it was consensual. I would like to apologize to the turtle, his family, the Kahala Hilton Hotel, and the hundred or so diners at the Hilton's outdoor cafe. I would also like to apologize to my loyal wife Karen, who had to endure the subsequent news item in the "Also Noted" section of the Santa Barbara Women's Club Weekly.

In 1987, I attended a bar mitzvah in Manhattan while wearing white gabardine pants, white patent-leather slippers, a blue blazer with gold buttons, and a yachting cap. I would like to apologize to the Jewish people, the State of Israel, my family, who have stood by me, and my wife Karen, who has endured my seventeen affairs and three out-of-wedlock children.

I would also like to apologize to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for referring to its members as "colored people." My apology would not be complete if I didn't include my new wife, Nancy, who is of a pinkish tint, and our two children, who are white-colored.

Finally, I would like to apologize for spontaneously yelling the word "savages!" after losing six thousand dollars on a roulette spin at the Choctaw Nation Casino and Sports Book. When I was growing up, the usage of this word in our household closely approximated the Hawaiian aloha, and my use of it in the casino was meant to express "until we meet again."

Now on with the campaign!

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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.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Beverly Hills, California
Date of Birth:
August 14, 1945
Place of Birth:
Waco, Texas
Education:
Long Beach State College; University of California, Los Angeles
Website:
http://www.stevemartin.com

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Pure Drivel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the funniest book i have ever read. I would be reading this book in the middle of class and all of a sudden i would be laughing really hard! if you like steven martin you will like this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
usually i like steve martin's stuff a lot but was very disappointed when i listened to this book particularly since it had gotten such a high rating.. I did not think that it was that funny. I was in a hurry and i did not realize that they had the first two chapters here. big mistake.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, I'm sure you all are thinking... What is this book about?? Is this another lame stand-up book written by a comedian whose star shined brightest five years ago? No! Well, not really. This book is simply exactly what the title says, 'pure drivel.' You think, in reading some of the chapters, 'Oh now I see what the point of this book is...' But the great thing is, there IS no point! It's simply a book to sit back to in the dusky afternoon with a cool drink and read, simply to get a much needed lazy laugh. Even just skimming the titles of the chapters you will be forced into a gentle chuckle with names such as, 'Mars Probe Finds Kittens,' 'Times Roman Font Announces Shortage of Periods,' and 'Michael Jackson's Old Face.' I highly, and with a delightful smirk, recommend this book for anyone looking for a cheap laugh and a quirky anecdote. This book doesn't fall short of any expectations, it lands right on target with a charming mix of classic Martin wit and pure-as-the-morning-snow drivel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TiwandaP More than 1 year ago
Exactly as the title suggests this book is pure drivel; but drivel that will give you a good smirk or an out-right snort-giggle even on your worst day when you have declared to the rest of the world that you will never smile again. Only Steve Martin could get away with writing this and making money on it - Bravo, Steve!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great stuff that'll get a laugh even out of the painfully serious. The 50-year-old Lolita even thinks it's funny. A few quotes. 'But this guy was no ordinary guy, he was a red guy.' 'Think what you think, and stultify what you perambulate.' '48. Windows for Dummies. 49. Windows for Idiots. 50. Windows for the Subhuman.' This is hilarious stuff that just about everyone will get a kick out of...er, this?
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Pure Drivel,' in my estimation, is not as strong as Martin's earlier collection of short stories, 'Cruel Shoes.' Still, it's pure Martin, is packed with amusing moments and shouldn't be missed by anyone who appreciates his humor. Personal favorites include 'The 100 Greatest Books Ever Read,' 'Lolita at 50,' 'Closure' and 'A Word from the Words.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Steve Martin is hilarious, and this book is a must!.....well, not MUST must, but definately a must read, but......just buy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The title is misleading. It should be 'Mostly Pure Drivel.' Steve Martin starts off strong. The first half-dozen or so pieces are laugh-out-loud brilliant. Then, as though he had run out of ideas but had a publication deadline to meet, he slides into humor so forced and abstract as to be not only unfunny but incomprehensible. If most of these pieces first appeared in The New Yorker, I am disappointed at the magazine's lowering its standards. I suspect that had the material been written by an unknown, someone other than Steve Martin, it might have been returned by publishers with letters of encouragement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
every story in this book made me laugh out loud. I've never read any book quite as funny as this. I think everyone should read it