Saturday, December 8, 2007

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Steve Martin's book, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life, is not a choice I would have made had I not watched an interview with him on TV. I haven't been a fan of his, have seldom seen his comedy acts, and have only seen him in a couple of movies. But I was impressed with his interview, and immediately called the library to put a hold on his book, which came very soon after.

Before I finished reading his book, I read a review by Janet Maslin of the New York Times. I agreed with her when she wrote: "Even for readers already familiar with Martin's solemn side, this is a surprising book: smart, serious, heartfelt and confessional without being maudlin." A pleasant surprise for me, and the reason I've made this reading choice for the two different book groups I'm now working with.

I learned that there was much more to know about Steve Martin besides his comedy acts and his films. After Martin finished high school, he applied to Santa Ana Junior College where he took drama classes, and where he found an interest in English poetry from Donne to Eliot. He also was particularly interested in philosophy, but the junior college didn't offer philosophy classes, so he applied to Long Beach State College (which is now called California State College). He enrolled there, majored in philosophy, and earned a Dean's scholarship for his second year.

His book, which he calls a biography rather than an autobiography, created for me not only a new image of Steve Martin, but a real appreciation for his abilities, his talents and his accomplishments.

Click here to listen to a recent NPR interview with Steve Martin on his new book, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life.