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An Object of Beauty: A Novel by Steve Martin
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An Object of Beauty: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Steve Martin

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1,134787,220 (3.55)57
Member:rightantler
Title:An Object of Beauty: A Novel
Authors:Steve Martin
Info:Grand Central Publishing (2010), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Stewart's Read, Your library
Rating:***
Tags:Y12, fiction, art

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An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
I was am completely charmed by this book.

Full disclosure: I wasn't expecting much of Steve Martin. I haven't read Shopgirl, and I think I was secretly expecting something lowbrow and full of the outlandish masquerading as the comic, The Jerk in novel form. But from the moment I opened the book to the first page, I was pleasantly surprised:

I am tired, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see it bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else.

That first sentence (okay, aside from the unnecessarily split infinitive) is practically pitch perfect. It sets forth the conceit of the book, a faux roman à clef, and gives you a glimpse of the relationship between the subject and the narrator: she is someone who has left an indelible imprint on his life, and writing this story is his attempt to move on.

I will tell you her story from my own recollections . . . [but if] you occasionally wonder how I know about some of the events I describe in this book, I don't. I have found that -- just as in real life -- imagination sometimes has to stand in for experience.

I love how this sentence forgives the narrator for knowing too much. A curious strength of this book is the distance of the narrator from the story. For much of it he is not directly involved, and so the narrative is more third-person than first-person, despite the directed-at-the-reader exposition I've quoted above. The wonderful thing about this is that it imitates, or perhaps even symbolizes, his relationship with Lacey: she is obviously important to him (he's writing her story, for God's sake), but he is also aware that he is not terribly important to her, so too many first-person sentences would exaggerate his significance to her story.

I also love this book for what it's not. It's not pretentious, despite the gorgeous color reproductions of artwork that are scattered throughout, and some almost tongue-in-cheek use of art-world argot. It isn't overly plotted, either; the story unfolds in a natural, lifelike way, by which I mean that it's not always exciting or dramatic, but there is almost always something worth observing. It doesn't try too hard to be profound, and despite raising a few questions of ethics I'm not sure there's any big moral to take away, just food for thought. (Or maybe not so much "food" as hors d'oeuvres: small, perfect bites that fill you up without your realizing it.)

And I love, LOVE the quiet, uncertain-but-hopeful note on which it ends. The last paragraph, like the opening sentence, is absolutely pitch perfect. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Quintessential Steve Martin. I could hear his voice throughout narrating the story to me. I get lost in his unique phraseology so full of imagery... "flowing ticker tape of rumors and facts", "metronomic regularity", "anatomical landscape", "semantic shelf life", "silken air slipstreamed". And very effective color shots of artwork that also helped to tell the story.
'An Object of Beauty' introduced me to the elitist realm of the art world to which I in my life time would never be privy. Midway through I found I could hardly bear to put the book down; I so badly wanted to know what was coming next. ( )
  cjservis | Jan 18, 2016 |
An Object of Beauty is a great story about the New York art world from the late '80s through 2010. The staid narrator, art writer Daniel, follows the racier career of his college friend Lacey Yeager as she dives into the art collector market. ( )
  RoseCityReader | Jan 8, 2016 |
Lacey Yeager is a young woman entering the world of art dealing in Manhattan. She learns the craft at Sotheby’s and then steps out into her own gallery. Although there is glitz and glamour in the story Mr. Martin shows us the grittier side of the art world in this book. Not everyone has scruples, and the name of the game is money. The book touches on various aspects of the art world and for this reason I thought I would love it. It has it moments, some interesting characters and presents some truths about the world of art but honestly, it fell just a little short for me.

The book did touch a little on the Gardner Museum art theft, which I found interesting but even that plot line did not resolve itself to my satisfaction. Bottom line … I’ve read better art related fiction.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Read's somewhat like a non-fiction(but I guess that's what the author went for). Altogether, it was quite interesting because I got to know a whole lot more about the art world. Art interests me! ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
"I couldn’t be a woman," Steve Martin once joked, "because I’d play with my breasts all day." Now he has written a novel about a young woman, but nearly the only thing he can imagine about her is wanting to play with her breasts. The Object of Beauty is a nasty exercise in narcissism, particularly in the narcissism of the famous.
 
Dark subject matter is conveyed with certain smart-assey detachment. Martin knows when to drop a joke in before things get too serious. Timing. Comedians have it.
added by WeeklyAlibi | editWeekly Alibi, John Bear (Dec 16, 2010)
 
“An Object of Beauty” follows the New York art world climb of Lacey Yeager. She is a charismatic character yet a very odd one to have emerged from the imagination of Steve Martin. Although Lacey is treated as this book’s main source of fascination, it’s less interesting to look at her point-blank than to look at her while wondering what Mr. Martin sees.

One aspect of this novel’s allure is the ambiguity with which Mr. Martin frames Lacey’s fierce, outsize ambitions. Is her story meant to be the appreciatively told tale of a canny New York predator? That of a relative innocent whose values change in the presence of vast sums of art-market money? Or that of a stylishly attractive dynamo who, with only minimal irony, recognizes herself in the monstrous goddess that Willem de Kooning painted as “Woman I?”

Is she an unalloyed opportunist? Or is she as intoxicated with art as she is with the leverage and entrée that expertise will bring? Is she stirred by art’s erotic power or just someone who sexually exploits the acquisitive passions of insatiable collectors? Does she share the collectors’ boys’-club competitive spirit (for surely this is a man’s world, at least in the way it is depicted by Mr. Martin)? Or is she just a woman who’s inordinately good at manipulating rich, credulous men? . . .

added by PLReader | editNY Times, Janet Maslin (Nov 28, 2010)
 
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First words
I am tired, so very tired of thinking about Lacey Yeager, yet I worry that unless I write her story down, and see it bound and tidy on my bookshelf, I will be unable to ever write about anything else.
Quotations
"I think Lacey is the kind of person who will always be okay."
When she was alone, she was potential; with others she was realized. Alone she was self-contained, her tightly spinning magnetic energy oscillating around her. When in company, she had invisible tethers to everyone in the room: as they moved away, she pulled them in.
Was every transgression capable of being so well hid? It suggested that one could connect the dots between any two people in any room and perhaps stumble onto an unknown relationship.
"Do you know we tape all our auctions?"
When Lacey began these computations, her toe crossed ground from which it is difficult to return: she started converting objects of beauty into objects of value.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446573647, Hardcover)

Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:19 -0400)

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"Steve Martin's latest novel examines the glamour and the subterfuge of the fine art world in New York City"--Provided by publisher.

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