From 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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Martin's first novel, Shopgirl
(2000), was charming and clever, and his second is even more accomplished. Daniel Pecan Cambridge (his middle name is taken from his grandmother's successful pecan farm in Texas) is at odds with the world. He can only cross the street at driveways that are directly opposite each other, he must have an exact amount of light wattage in his apartment at all times, and he longingly watches a beautiful pharmacy clerk and a sexy realtor from afar. A psychiatry student named Clarissa visits him twice a week, trying to get to the root of his many phobias and quirks, but he holds her at a distance because she tells him nothing about her personal life. He knows she's somehow connected to the little boy and the woman he sees outside his apartment during their sessions. It turns out the little boy is Clarissa's son, Teddy, and one day, when Clarissa's ex-husband tries to take Teddy from her, Daniel literally throws himself over the boy and suddenly finds himself drawn into their lives. Daniel grows increasingly attached to them and realizes that his phobias might have to take a backseat to the people in his life. Martin's trademark humor is guaranteed to have readers laughing hard, but there is also a great deal of sweetness here and a real affection for his characters. Kristine HuntleyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved