Scott Brown
October 03, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Pleasure of My Company

Current Status
In Season
Steve Martin

We gave it a B

”I stared at the ceiling and wondered how I could be in love with someone whose name had no anagram,” frets obsessive-compulsive Daniel Pecan Cambridge as he mulls a tender encounter with single mother Clarissa. Everything in Daniel’s life — from the wattages of his lightbulbs to the arrangement of his neighborhood’s driveways — is subjected to this sort of calculus; everything except Daniel himself, of course. Set in the world of youngish Cali lonely hearts (a la 2000’s ”Shopgirl”), Martin’s new novella feels not so much written as worded. He riddles us with intricately constructed OCD gags (funny stuff, though a tad musty post-Sedaris), then settles into a sweet, symmetrical story of love and ”the quiet heart.” But ”Pleasure” might have benefited from a bit more chaos to raise its stakes above those of Sunday crossword solving.

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