As someone who has long been a fan of Steve Martin’s unique blend of highly intelligent, literate, surrealist comedy, I guess I came into this book with a predisposition toward enjoyment; this was not disappointed. I found The Pleasure of My Company to be one of the better I have read in recent months; and while I wouldn’t recommend that everyone go out and buy it, I think
it’s worth a read.
The narrator is Daniel Pecan Cambridge, an average guy with a few minor quirks. He is either 28, 30, 27, or 34, depending on the situation and the need; he can only cross the street where two driveways are exactly opposite each other. There must always be exactly 1125
watts of light on in his apartment (he hoards 30-watt bulbs because they are so difficult to find), he creates magic squares, and connects those things and people around him by colors, patterns, and planes. His
life is lived according to logic and simples rules.
His story centers around three potential relationships in his life: Elizabeth, the realtor, whom he worships from afar; Clarissa, the student psychiatrist who visits twice weekly and whose name cannot be
anagrammed; and Zandy, the pharmacist at the Rite-Aid who knows his prescriptions. Between his efforts to win the attention and affection of these women and twice becoming a finalist in the Tepperton’s Pies Most
Average American contest under two different names, his life becomes complicated but his rules of logic hold firm.
I quite enjoyed meeting Daniel Cambridge, simply because I can identify with many of his quirks, though I normally don’t take things to his degree. (For example, I have noticed that I try not to step on
painted lines in parking lots, but that’s about as bad as it gets–I think.) However, I can appreciate his outlook on math and words; I enjoy sitting down and working out crosswords and math problems. He
understands the root of his neuroses, he laughs at them, he has an excellent perspective on just how he is perceived by others–and, indeed, knows that, in time, he will be able to leave these things
behind–but enjoys living in the grid of logic that he has built and the safety it provides.
Overall, the book would probably be rated PG-13, with several expletives and two brief sexual situations. Steve Martin majored in philosophy in college, and in this book, his intelligence and comic timing really shine through. I would recommended The Pleasure of My
Company, especially if you are quirky, romantic, and slightly eccentric.