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.
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.