An Object of Beauty, By Steve Martin

Hollywood polymath Steve Martin can pluck a banjo as convincingly as he can fashion a screenplay or a satirical novel. His latest book, set in the Nineties New York art world, is the story of the fluctuating fortunes of two college friends, Daniel Franks, a penniless "art writer", and Lacey Yeager, an ex-Sotheby's popsie set on shimmying up the greasy pole.

Daniel has never been able to get Lacey out of his head, but Lacey's head is usually elsewhere. Told with charm and pizzazz, Martin's novel is at his best when deflating the vanities and pretensions of the downtown art scene.

For Daniel a gallery opening in Chelsea is a night "to be smug, cool, to dress up or down, and to bring into focus everthing one loves about oneself and make it tangible".

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