Blurb: Steve Martin has always been one of the most intelligent of comedians (you won’t find Adam Sandler writing a play about Einstein and Picasso anytime soon), but this intelligence is manifested in gymnastically absurdist flights of fancy, rather than the politically informed riffs typical of performers like Lenny Bruce. Pure Drivel is a collection of pieces, most of them written for the New Yorker, that demonstrate Martin’s playful way with words and his unerring ability to create a feeling of serendipitous improvisation even on the printed page. Although some of these pieces flirted with topicality when they first appeared, Martin is most successful when he leaves the real world behind and gives his wit free rein. This collection preserves the best (so far) of his glorious improvisations.
About the author: Stephen Glenn “Steve” Martin is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician, and composer. He was raised in Southern California in a Baptist family, where his early influences were working at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm and working magic and comedy acts at these and other smaller venues in the area. His ascent to fame picked up when he became a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later became a frequent guest on the Tonight Show. In the 1970s, Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before packed houses on national tours. In the 1980s, having branched away from stand-up comedy, he became a successful actor, playwright, and juggler, and eventually earned Emmy, Grammy, and American Comedy awards.
Review: This is my first foray into reading anything written by Steve Martin, and I must admit that I would like to read his earlier book too as this book was wonderful. Overall this is a laugh out loud book of 23 short with some really short stories just like flash fiction) and all of them without exception could well be considered literature of the strange. I like the story “A Word from the Words,” wherein the words, letters, and even the question mark get the last “word” in as it were. Most of the tales are so absurd that they could truly be considered sublime. I’ve been reading a lot of serious books and needed something light and refreshing to wash my palette this summer and this book served that purpose. My individual favourites include “Dear Amanda,” a collection of letters from an ex-boyfriend; “Schrodinger’s Cat,” an amusing assortment of hypothetical situations. “Pure Drivel” is pure fun. This collection of short stories and essays made me laugh nearly as often as it made me shake my head in wonder at this man’s hard to believe thoughts. Pure Drivel is the perfect vehicle for Martin’s talents, and I hope that he can match this resourcefulness in another spectacular work.
I write a lot, which keeps me off the streets and out of trouble. There is always something to write about, always a new story to craft. Not writing, for me, is like trying to hold back a sneeze. Learning to write was the most powerful influence in my life. I can still remember the awe I felt when I realized I could put real words onto paper and tell out a story. From that first ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I wanted to write.
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