The Pleasure of My Company / Steve Martin : 4 of 5
Since I enjoyed reading Shopgirl so much a few years ago, I've had this more recent Steve Martin novel on my Amazon Wish List for a long time. But after I signed up for PaperBack Swap, I quickly found this book was available, and so The Pleasure of My Company became my first "free" book! Lately I've been reading so much manga and other comics, so it had actually been awhile since reading an actual novel, so I planned on starting out slow, but soon I had to sit down and keep reading all the way to the back cover. I knew right away I would enjoy and relate to the main character, Daniel Pecan Cambridge, who lives alone in Santa Monica and enjoys his simple life, even though he is plagued by some of the craziest mental issues you can imagine (his biggest phobia is stepping off a sidewalk curb, so he finds routes that let him cross opposite driveways, and he constantly keeps the total light wattage in his apartment to a fixed number!). Of course, he's also a genius who can construct gigantic mathematical magic squares, and he has a healthy fantasy life that involves possible relationships with Elizabeth the realtor (who he observes from his window), Clarissa the student psychologist (who visits him weekly), or Zandy the pharmacy clerk (who he visits during his regular treks to Rite Aid). Steve Martin is a fantastic author (his skill definitely outshines his acting career), and when he writes in the first person as Daniel, every thought and emotion feels real. I love how he understands that solitude can enhance the senses, making every small detail a symphony of beauty or sadness, and the plot truly explores if there are many "takers for the quiet heart" in the world. Of course, the story is full of hilarious moments as well, but I appreciated much more the moments that brought an unexpected tear!