Sunday, January 18, 2015

"An Object of Beauty" by Steve Martin

Boychik Lit Book Review - No. 19

Here’s my book review of An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin.

You may already know that actor-comedian Steve Martin not only writes gags and skits, but also screenplays, plays, and several books. (He’s also a talented five-string banjo player!) An Object of Beauty is a humorous novel about a scheming young woman making her way in the aristo world of New York art galleries. Oh, and you can add art connoisseur, historian, and collector to Martin’s credentials. He has his own multimillion-dollar private collection, so researching this book probably took little more effort than looking around the walls of his home and remembering details of those transactions.

Main character Lacey Yeager is a looker with brains who has no qualms about sleeping her way to the top of the art-world rat heap. She is sexy, clever, manipulative, shameless, and almost totally heedless. And in this story she goes from being a newbie intern to proprietor of her own trendy gallery. And along the way she goes through boyfriends almost as often as the Manhattan fashion trends shift. There’s the serious, caring metrosexual journalist, a gallery owner or two, a pop artist, a rich playboy broker who may be a scammer, and an FBI agent.

You’ll learn a lot about art – how it’s made, how it’s valued, and what’s in and what’s out. Lacey is one of those characters whose outrageous attitudes don’t fail to fascinate. She’ll hold your attention and keep you guessing what clever ploy she’ll try next. But, oddly enough for a book so well crafted, there are several major plot threads that simply go nowhere or are resolved in uninteresting ways. Did Martin get bored with them? Or did he decide those yarns would be too much of a hassle to spin out or explain? Or is he somehow saying – that’s life – that situation you’re worried about might not turn out as you expect – in fact, it might not go anywhere at all!

For example, I’m dying to know whether there’s a Rembrandt under that Russian painting. So if you happen to run into Steve in the grocery store, please ask him for me.

For Boychik Lit, I’m Gerald Everett Jones. I wrote The Misadventures of Rollo Hemphill, about a young man on the make in Hollywood, who keeps failing upward. Young men will identify, mature men will sympathize, and women of any age won’t help giggling at male foolishness. And for reviews of other books you can put on your list, check out these podcasts at boychiklit.com.
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