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on 8 November 1999
Steve Martin is a funny man. Over the last few years it had seemed that he lost sight of this, but after reading this book I have the image of a man who has succesfully managed to re-invent himself from a man of wacky actions and broad physical humour to a man who sees humour as a literary endeavour - a change much the same as Groucho Marx undertook between the late 1940's and early 1960's.
What he has written are a collection of spot on parodies, some marvellous pieces of observational humour, all rolled up in a comfortable blanket of intelligence - most of which seem to be written by a man who is happy in his work, and who is clear about how much "Steve Martin" there should be in the writing. Essentially, it is an anthology of magazine articles published in the late 1990's dealing with topics as diverse as shortages of punctuation in modern typefaces to Michael Jackson's old face ("the things I could have said!!"). In book form it works because it has the advantage that you don't have to scurry around looking for old library back issues of magazines to find them.
Martin excels in these pieces, and it shows that mastering one craft doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't reach out for another.I really do hope he will continue to work in the same vein for a long time to come, and not cut short his literary career a'la Woody Allen. Overall, these are Five crowns well deserved, methinks!!!
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2002
Since buying this book a few years ago I have found myself returning to it time and time again. Despite this familiarity, I keep chuckling to myself whenever I do, which generally guarantees me a seat on the tube and sometimes without neighbours.
Buy it, laugh a lot and then lend it to everyone you know who will love you forever and buy their own copies. Which is the highest praise any book could have.
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on 7 May 1999
Steve Martin is a very close personal friend of mine whom I have never actually met. So when I saw this book while wandering through a bookstore, I just had to have it. Sure, Steve used to perform with a banjo through his head while playing an arrow, but these days he seems to be exploring subtle humor. Others have tried subtle humor (Woody Allen, Al Gore, etc.) and left me saying, "Huh?" But Steve actually pulls it off. I think it's a shame that some people expected this book to have an arrow through *its* head, because it's a wonderful book for what it is. If you didn't enjoy L.A. Story, you probably won't enjoy this book. Otherwise, buy it right now Right Now RIGHT NOW!!!
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on 14 September 2000
I've always liked Steve Martin's writings in The New Yorker, so I was pleased to see a book containing many of his pieces finally released. It's a collection of short stories which are used to cleverly illustrate his opinions on a range of subjects, without ever directly stating those opinions - you get to figure them out for yourself, if you choose to. I'd recommend this book to anyone looking for an entertaining read, well crafted by a well versed humorist. The audio tape is also available, read by Steve Martin, but surprisingly the delivery is very dull, as if the recording was a real chore.
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on 13 September 2000
If I have a complaint about this book at all, it's merely that I wish it was longer. Don't expect anything resembling a heavy or involved read but DO expect to laugh aloud!
Some of the pieces such as 'Dear Amanda' are terrific read-aloud material and you don't even need Mr Martin's comic gift of timing to deliver it well -it's all there in the text.
As a writer myself, I particularly enjoyed 'Writing is Easy' and 'Times Roman Font Announces Shortage of Periods' (Look for the full stop(s)in the essay!)
Delicious Absurdity Abounds!
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on 25 February 2001
As an Englishman sadly denied access to Steve's writings until the advent of the internet, I was delighted to be able to own a copy of this masterpiece.
With nuggets of glorious nonsense discussing everything from Stallone's theories on explosive sound through to the hilarious (and touchingly selk-knowing) Dear Amanda, Mr. Martin shows exactly why many, myself included, regard him as something of a hero. The best thing I've read since I got a second hand copy of Cruel Shoes.
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on 1 December 2007
Great stuff that'll get a laugh even out of the painfully serious. The 50-year-old Lolita even thinks it's funny. A few quotes. "But this guy was no ordinary guy, he was a red guy." "Think what you think, and stultify what you perambulate." "48. Windows for Dummies. 49. Windows for Idiots. 50. Windows for the Subhuman." This is hilarious stuff that just about everyone will get a kick out of...er, this? Author of Adjust Your Brain: A Practical Theory for Maximizing Mental Health.
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on 27 September 1998
I have been an avid fan of Steve Martin for years; I was practically raised on his "Saturday Night Live" appearances. When the opportunity presented itself, I was priveleged to view his play, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile" during it's first run in L.A. A man whom I had regarded before as a simple, talented funnyman instantly became a comic guru. His poignant and insightful views on aging, the nature of intelligence and wit, and art itself were works of a matured genius. So, when "Pure Drivel" turned up on the bookshelf, I grabbed it immediately. Although intentionally lighter fare than his astounding play, this book is by no means less impressive. Martin is able to toy with our expectations as readers; he follows purely impish material with complex insight into human nature and writing. His conclusion especially, will turn the reader's attention to an often overlooked participant in the process of reviewing literature. In conclusion, "Pure Drivel" is a delightful express train to the center of Martin's true comic genius.
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on 25 October 1998
After having read a few Toni Morrisson books (not exactly rib-ticklers) I found myself in need of some light-heartedness. The cover of Pure Divel caught my eye and I picked it up...then I put it down. $20! For such a little book? (Thank the WWW gods for Amazon.com) Determined to laugh I bought the book and happily was not dissapointed. Although one or two essays didn't rise to the level of the rest of the work, overall, I was more than impressed. Two of the stories in particular had me laughing outloud at work (please don't tell my boss I was reading on the job...). "Mars Probe Finds Kittens" was smart, original, and (for me, anyway) hysterically visual. And having grown up next to a couple who had Mensa parties, and being witness to their bizarre game of intellectual King of the Hill "How I Joined Mensa" struck me as sarcstically witty as it was true. So, worth the $20? You bet. Now I can pass that $20 rectangle of humor on to one of my friends knowing that they will enjoy it as much as I did.
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on 4 December 1998
Steve, you've been my Comedy God since I saw your stand-up routine live in the 70's. But this "book" is literally a lightweight that doesn't do justice to your considerable talents. Want to read funny, try "Naked Pictures of Famous People" or even "In The Bin"-a hockey book for god's sake-but pass on this paltry effort
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