Top positive review
Steve Martin's funny, yet poignant novel
on 12 July 2017
Comedian Steve Martin is an author? Well he is and a pretty darn good one.
Daniel is an amiable young man who lives alone in LA. A guy made up of many quirks and foibles who tends to overthink things is trying to romance Zandie from the drug store, or Elizabeth the estate agent [depending what mood he’s in] while try to navigate the streets without crossing a curb and find his own way in the world.
Martin does a great job of getting the reader into Daniel’s head. When ODC [implied but never stated] or Asperger’s [possible] characters are portrayed on tv or books they usually come across as cliché or offensive, but with Daniel, he feels genuine and believable. It’s a pleasure to see him develop over the course of the novella and it always feels organic.
While never gut bustlingly funny, the text ensured I kept a grin on my face virtually from first page to last. Some of my favorite bits are Daniel trying to complete a car journey without using the letter e and keeping 1125 watts of power on constantly. Even so, there is a parallel theme of sorrow and the ugly side of life intruding which raises this above a usual ‘humor’ book.
The first third is rather directionless but never too slow and gives the supporting characters time to breath. I liked the crush he has on Elizabeth-he loves her yet they’ve never spoken a word and he doesn’t know what to say [Something I’m sure resonates with a lot of people] and the awkward ‘bromance’ with neighbor Brian.
There are problems. The second half of the book becomes more plot driven with two road trips virtually back to back which lacks the freshness of the early episodes. The ending feels really rushed, if natural, as if Martin had the last 20 pages planed out and the publisher said, ‘do it in 4, get it finished’-it’s that speeded up compared to the rest. There are a couple of uses of strong swear words which feels unnecessary and tonally inconsistent.
But this is nitpicking. It’s a fairly obscure novel but it needs to find a wider audience. If you feel like trying something different, I’d defiantly recommend it.