The Pleasure of My Company

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 March, 2004, 12:00am

The Pleasure of My Company

by Steve Martin

Phoenix $90

Steve Martin has proved that he can be funny on screen, but his attempts at writing have been less successful. His first two books - Cruel Shoes and Pure Drivel - were full of slapdash goofiness. His third, Shopgirl, was a weak attempt at a novel. But he has found his authorial voice. Pleasure of My Company starts out with plenty of laughs, then evolves into something more poignant. Surprisingly, Martin is a better writer when he stops trying to be funny.

The story is about Daniel, an obsessive-compulsive who wins a contest as the Most Average American. He has eyes for several women - Zandy the pharmacy assistant, Elizabeth the realtor, and Clarissa, his shrink - yet is too shy to speak to them. But when Clarissa is stalked by her abusive ex, he decides to overcome his fears and rescue her.