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The Pleasure of My Company: A Novel [Hardcover]

Steve Martin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2003
From the bestselling author of Shopgirl comes the tender story of a troubled man who finds love, and life, in the most unexpected place.

Daniel resides in his Santa Monica apartment, living much of his life as a bystander: He watches from his window as the world goes by, and his only relationships seem to be with people who barely know he exists. He passes the time idly filling out contest applications, counting ceiling tiles, and estimating the wattage of light bulbs.

It is through Daniel's growing attachment to Clarissa, and to Teddy, that he finally gains the courage to begin to engage the world outside, and in doing so, he discovers love, and life, in the most surprising places.

Filled with his trademark humor, tenderness, and out and out hilarious wordplay, The Pleasure of My Company is a tour de force sure to delight all of Steve Martin's fans.

Product Details

Product Description

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.

From Booklist

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 Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sweet June 16 2004
A short book demands a short review, so here goes: Steve Martin manages to be funny and thoughtful in this book without ever making you feel like you're in the middle of an SNL skit, and that's a difficult feat when your subject matter is a man whose idiosyncrasies beg to be mocked. Instead, Martin takes us inside the mind of Daniel Pecan Cambridge, who can't cross streets if it involves stepping off of a curb, requires that all the lights in his home add up to 1125 watts (imagine how this impacts bedtime), obsesses over the realtor across the street, and makes frequent--and complicated, due to his inability to curb-hop--trips to Rite-Aid. This novel makes you think about how easy it is to get stuck in a rut and how dangerous that rut can become. It's written quite beautifully--I suppose, after Shopgirl, Martin's writing skills should be less surprising, but the fact is that he's got more literary talent than half the bestseller list. At only 160 pages, this book is just right for a three day read, during which you'll find yourself thinking about Cambridge frequently, and after which you'll be left with the hazy afterglow of a very pleasant experience with an ending that wraps things up perfectly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars book review. June 7 2004
By cameron
Daniel Pecan lives in an average apartment building in Santa Monica, California, where out of the ordinary is completely normal. From his fear of the six inch curbs outside his home, to his complete inability to approach women, to his obsession with on sale ear plugs at the rite aid down the street, Daniel is perfectly fit for the setting in which he lives and the novel takes place. He not only has huge insecurities and problems with low confidence about himself, but problems with exaggeration and lying to the public to make himself someone he's not. "The challenge was not how to present myself as average, but how to make myself likeable without lying." (Martin, 9). As new characters are introduced throughout the story, Daniel continues to face the challenge of complete honesty with people, and with himself.
The novel "The Pleasure of my Company" written by Steve Martin consists of a great deal of humor and sarcasm, and honestly but comically confronts the ideas of people's everyday insecurities about themselves as people live their lives from day to day. "Just at the moment Elizabeth looked over, I was half puckered (from the sun) and probably dangerous looking." (Martin, 16). The main character Daniel Pecan, thirty-three of Santa Monica, California has trouble not only making any kind of contact with women, but simply walking by one without feeling the need to deeply analyze it after. His humor and insecurities about and with women are what make the story what is it because without the comedy, the plot would not move well along throughout the book.
I Strongly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good laugh, excessive sarcasm, and an extremely twisted story line that will keep you wondering throughout the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Quite Nice June 5 2004
This book was enjoyable and could be read in many different ways - as the story of a flawed man, a neurotic, or even a love story. By the end I had actually come to the conclusion it was a love story of sorts - how the pursuit of love, the affection for others, and social contact in general, helped Daniel to start to overcome his issues. The story is of Daniel, a man who is troubled by his social maladies and psychological ones as well. He exists in his own world that plays out mainly in his head and every human contact or outing requires significant pre-planning. Some of his neuroticisms are quite funny (ie the Rite Aid outings) and kept the book light. It was an emotional book because at times you will be laughing at Daniel, feel sadness for him, feel sorry for him, and experience happiness too. This was a fine little read with many strong points. I missed having 'chapters' in the book, but something about not having them made this read more like a stream of consciousness by Daniel more than an actual book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Many talents of Steve Martin May 31 2004
I bought this book because I saw Ellen D. recommend it on her show. I got into the book very quickly, it was entertainting and interesting.
The main character Daniel, who's compulsive obsessive goes through a series of funny encounters with people at his appartment building as well as his case worker. In spite of all his rules and quircks Daniel falls in love 3 times, wins an essay contest (well actually 2 since his "alter" ego writes the other essay), baby sits for a little boy, learns to walk across a curb and figures out his life through mathematical squares.
The book is quite entertaining with Daniel having to follow all the rules in his head. However, it seems like the ending was cut a little short. The whole story unfolds slowly and then the ending seems like it was written in one hour and only takes a page and a half to explain what happens to Daniel.
I recommend this book, however if you do not like endings cut short you might want to steer clear of this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Surprise! Don't Miss It! May 23 2004
By A Customer
Daniel Pecan Cambridge is a man with problems. Not only is he an obsessive-compulsive, unemployed, Mensa reject, but he is also a murder suspect, a near seducer of his only male friend's girlfriend, in love with one of three women (he hasn't decided which) and the winner of the Most Average American essay contest. Daniel embarks on a journey of self-discovery without the apparent advantage of being able to cross the street anywhere except where two driveways line up, the ability to travel any distance without restricting himself to words missing the letter "E," or speak to a woman without the horrifying image of himself as a murder suspect showing upon the television.
Can Daniel pull himself together? Which woman will decide his faults are not as serious as they first appear? Will he ever be able to cross the street at a curb? These and many more burning questions are answered in Steve Martin's The Pleasure of My Company.
Told in a very intimate first person viewpoint, The Pleasure of My Company is compelling, amusing, enlightening, and tender. Somehow Martin manages to take a man doing very little with his life and grip the reader. It is a trick worthy of a veteran novelist.
This is a short book without any extra padding and is, therefore, a very easy read. There are no wasted words, no unnecessary scenes. The pace is fast, the characters lively. From a peroxide and plastic female real estate agent to an angelic shrink with more problems than her patients, the supporting cast is wild and wonderful. The setting is as odd as the main character, and the self-discovery is believable, well done, and very tender. The ending felt a tad rushed, but not bad.
Generally speaking, I avoid books written by celebrities, but this one is frankly amazing.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Endlessly Entertaining
This is a short read by Steve Martin, yes, THAT Steve Martin, the actor, and I for one couldn't put it down. Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2009 by Carolyn in the City
4.0 out of 5 stars Steve Martin is Gifted
This is the second book of Steve Martin's that I've read and I am so impressed with his writing. He is innovative and writes in a style that evokes alot of emotion. Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2006 by Shepherdess Extraordinaire
5.0 out of 5 stars don't expect the usual
I found this to be a wonderful read. A smart, warm, deep character study - I found myself smiling as I read it and smiling now as I think about it. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2006 by Kate Kenton
4.0 out of 5 stars The Jury is Still Out
The jury is still out for me on Steve Martin as a writer. I really enjoyed SHOP GIRL. PLEASURE OF MY COMPANY had some great moments and fresh and unique ideas, but didn't capture... Read more
Published on March 10 2005 by Emily Hoggard
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite there....
I thought this book was marginally entertaining and couldn't put my finger on why I didn't like it as well as Shop Girl. Read more
Published on July 20 2004 by Susan
5.0 out of 5 stars Okay, I give...
When I saw this at the book store, I chuckled smugly: Gosh, I wonder how this guy got his book deal, and what unknown author did he push off the shelf with his big name and the... Read more
Published on July 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book !!!
I loved this book by Steve Martin. It was very insightful and I laughed and cried. OCD and family relations, career problems and romance, are all covered in this short and easy... Read more
Published on July 5 2004 by Patty O
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure to Read
Most of the reviewers describe this book very accurately. It really was a pleasure to read. It was humorous and touching. Read more
Published on June 19 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice little book
Nothing exceptional, but an enjoyable and interesting book. As others have mentioned, it's a quick and easy read and worth the short investment of time required. Read more
Published on June 18 2004 by mpa12
5.0 out of 5 stars Like A Pleasant Arrow Through the Head
If, like me, you only know Steve Martin through his t.v. and big screen personna, you're cheating yourself. The Pleasure of My Company is like holding the source code for Mr. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by W. Andrues
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