The Pleasure of My Company - Steve Martin

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 Philipa, 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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First off, I have to say I really loved the opening line of this novella -- "This all started with a clerical error." -- does that not pique the curiosity or what? :-) I wasn't quite sure about this one in the first few pages but ended up really loving the quirky humor and heart in Daniel's story.

 

Daniel, vague about his age (changing it to fit in with whoever he is around), spends much of his time observing life from the front window of his Santa Monica, California apartment building. Daniel has some personality quirks to him that a number of readers will be able to relate to -- OCD, social anxiety, struggles with romantic interactions...It's not said outright in the story, but the way Daniel is written, I got the impression that he might possibly fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Daniel appears to be a mathematical genius and formulates magic squares (mathematical squares where all numbers within the square add up to the same amount no matter which direction you add them in) to calm particular strong bouts of anxiety. He lives without phone or internet, even keeps his cable unhooked most of the time. He struggles traveling outside, rarely traveling beyond his neighborhood block because he doesn't like the unevenness of curbs and cannot bring himself to cross them. He's in love with the realtor Elizabeth who is trying to sell the apartments across the street, but he also maybe loves his pharmacist Zandy at the Rite Aid where he does most of his shopping (because he's figured out how to get there without crossing curbs) or maybe Clarissa, his "therapist in training". ;-)

 

So without bragging, I'm letting you know that I can be physically appealing. Plus, I'm clean. Clean like I've just been car-washed and then scrubbed with a scouring  pad and then wrapped in palm fronds infused with ginger. My excellent personal hygiene, in combination with the floppy casual  forehead, once resulted in a provocative note being sent to me

from my former mailwoman. 

 

{Daniel, that smooth-talker :-) }

 

 

 

The tone of the story turns from pretty comical to more serious about halfway through but Martin writes Daniel in such an endearing way, the novella never loses its sweetness. I found myself smiling nearly the entire time I was reading this book. The layout is a little different -- there are no chapters, just vignette-style paragraphs. Also, the humor is not necessarily non-stop laugh out loud, a lot of the time it's more of a quiet humor that makes you smile and think "I know, right!" or "wow, I never looked at it that way, but yeah!"

 

 

I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as I've never read any of Steve Martin's other books, but I am a big fan of his movies and comedic style. I will definitely be adding his other books to my shelves in the near future!