Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Object of Beauty

Steve Martin

This is the third novel by the banjo playing stand up comic, remembered for his arrow through the head bit. It's not funny. It is an engrossing character study with enough of a plot to keep you reading.

An Object of Beauty follows the career of Lacey Yeager, a bright, beautiful young art dealer in New York through the late nineties and early oughts from the point of view of an also young art writer, who finds himself involved in a bit of shady dealing at a Sotheby's art auction in which Lacey makes a bit of unearned money. The novel is mostly about the art market during the tech bubble boom times with a lot of sex and a smattering of designer drugs thrown in.

The moral consequences of taking short cuts in business are touched on, lightly. The narrator is relieved  at not being outed for his small part, though Lacey does not entirely face the consequences of her action, either. Just like in real life, there is some ambiguity about things, not a cut and dried lesson to be learned.

September 11th 2001 sits in the middle of this novel like a stain. It would be pretty strange to have a novel about the beginning of the 21st century, especially one set in New York, that didn't mention that day. In this book nine eleven signals the end of the book times in the art world and the beginning of the failure of Lacey's gallery. If she hadn't bought into a deal to trade in a contemporary Chinese artist, just before the Dow tanked, though, everything would have been fine. The real moral of the story is: timing is everything and nobody knows what time it is.

This post is in the 68th
Book Review Blog Carnival
Published at Izgad.


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