An Object of Beauty

The best parts of Object of Beauty by Steve Martin:

“Lacey was just as happy alone as with company. When she was lone, she was potential; with others she was realized.”

“… a young man, Jamaican, perhaps, his head circled in a scarf with sunbleached dreadlocks on piled on top, looking like a plate of softshell crabs.”

“He brought the Van Gogh out to the offices, where ambient sunlight would make any flaws in the drawing more visible. He hovered around Lacey’s desk, tilting it this way and that, looking for fading, looking for foxing. Lacey presumed he didn’t notice her, but when he said, “A beautiful thing… a beautiful thing,” Lacey, at her desk, said, “I do my best.”

“Auctions were, and still are, spectator sports, where the contestants are money.”

“Lacey squeezed back into her slot across from [Jonah], with Patrice having to turn sideways to sit down. She seemed genuinely in love with Patrice, and genuinely trying to rekindle Jonah’s fleeting interest of three years ago. Looking back, I think that both behaviors were valid. To her this was natural, to Patrice it was unsettling, to me it was bewildering, and to Tanya Ross, who had matured normally, it was creepy.”


malfeasant – one guilty of malfeasance, an offender
incised – cut into a surface; engraved
prestidigitation – sleight of hand
feint – a movement made in order to deceive an adversary
vitrines – a glass display case or cabinet for works of art, curios, etc.
ovoid – egg shaped
argot – a secret language used by various groups—including, but not limited to, thieves and other criminals—to prevent outsiders from understanding their conversations

11 thoughts on “An Object of Beauty

  1. YAY! I’m still waiting for this to be available from my library queue. Seeing this post on your page was like seeing a trailer for an anticipated movie release. Got me all excited!


  2. Thanks Maggie! I read Shopgirl before the movie came out and really liked it. I’ve been looking forward to anotherbook by Martin.

    He definitely is multi talented. From a writer for the original Smothers Brothers show, to the “wild and crazy guy,” a serious banjo player, movie actor, and author.

    Though his movies in the last few years have been less than entertaining for me, I still hold him as one of my favorite comedians. But my favorite movie of his is a serious, somewhat creepy drama, “Novocain.” I recommend viewing that one to see him contrasted to “The Jerk” and more importantly, the Pink Panther trash he did.


  3. Oh, yay. I loved Shopgirl, especially because the entire time I read it, it was like Steve Martin was reading it to me. I love a clear voice in a novel. I can’t wait to read this one.


  4. Wow, I’m really dumb! I saw him promoting this on Colbert and still didn’t realize it was a novel. Colbert said “it’s a book about art,” and I thought it was literally a book about art; a coffee table book full of photos of paintings and sculptures, etc. I haven’t read Shopgirl yet, but I’m very interested in checking out his writing.


  5. I am reading this too. I work in the art world and expected to love this book more than I do. Perhaps it is a case of excessive proximity to the subject matter. You picked out some of the best lines though.


  6. Thanks for the post and the vocab, it makes me excited to read the book. Steve Martin is definitely among the multi-talented. Thought personally, I’ve loved him since I was a kid when he sang, “I’m picking out a Thermos for you.”


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