Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

Author: Steve Martin
Publisher- Format: Grand Central Publishing (2010), Hardcover, 304 pages
Subject: Art dealers, auctions, art history
Setting: New York
Genre: fiction
Source: my own shelves - a 2010 Christmas gift!

I can't believe it took me so long to get to this one!  I had it as one of my top picks on my Christmas wish list last year but it just kept getting buried in other "must reviews."  I'm so glad I didn't give up on it.  Steve Martin has given us a well-written, tightly plotted view of the art world in the recent and current economy.  He certainly seems to have done his homework to be able to present realistic scenes of auction houses, private galleries, international jet-set buyers, and less than honorable wheeler-dealers. The protagonist, Lacey Yaeger, an aggressive up-and-comer in the art world, takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions, motivations, love affairs, and monetary ups and downs. Told through the voice of art writer Daniel Franks, her career, her mentors, her co-workers, her love affairs, and her competition are all well drawn and pulled together to provide a taunt story that keeps the reader turning pages long past bedtime.

In addition to a good story and some good basic explanations of art, art history, and  how art is collected and sold, the book features twenty-two beautiful four color plates of many of the works featured in the book.  The pictures added the extra frosting to a good solid cake.  Steve Martin has certainly proved that his writing abilities are on a par with his acting and directing. 

Trying to "read" this in an audio version is probably a non-starter since the lushness of the paintings would not be available to contribute to the reader's experience.  As an e-book, it would only work on a color reader.  I think a lot would be lost in a strict black and white world.  As a print hardback, it's a winner, a definite positive, enriching, and enjoyable read.  Now that I've finished last year's Christmas book, I can look forward to this year's with a clear conscience.

1 comment:

  1. Gee, I remember reading some good reviews of this one, but this really sounds interesting. Off to search out a copy..


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