Review: An Object of Beauty: A Novel
An Object of Beauty: A Novel by Steve Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book exceeds in some areas and falls very short in others, making it an average book that wasn't painful to read. Not much of an endorsement, eh? The setting and most of the plot is the business side of the art world. Galleries, collectors, auction houses and even the FBI art squad are all players in this book. There's a lot that goes on in that world beyond the press releases that tell the public that another record has been broken at a Sothoby's or Christie's auction of a Picasso or a Warhol. Collecting art isn't primarily about collecting beautiful things for the people who play at that level, it's money first, appreciation second, or maybe third behind bragging rights. Fascinating stuff, and seen through the eyes of a narrator who witnesses his friend's (and our protagonist's)journey through that world. I found it easiest to forget that there was supposed to be an actual person penning this story, because to think that they had access to everything that Lacey (the friend and protagonist) did and thought borders on fantasy. Sure, there's a bit of terrible self referencing at the end when the narrator talks about writing the book and I suppose we're to take that as his admission that he made a lot of stuff up, but that seems more as a justification from Mr. Martin that he realizes the narration is flawed, not actual story telling. As a tacked on ending, it too can be ignored. The other major weakness of the plot is the odd bit of intrigue that pops up almost at the end of the book. There is a hint of it earlier, but if it's so important that it causes major events to happen to our main character, maybe there should have been a little foreshadowing? As it reads in the book, it happened, it was forgotten, and then, oh yeah - it's a big deal. Or was it?
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