Speaking of Books
Steve Martin paints a novel
of art-world intrigue
SEPARATE BEDS BY ELIZABETH BUCHAN The home of downsized Tom Nicholson is newly overstuffed with the arrival of his mother,
whom Tom can no longer support
in assisted living; his son, forced to
move home by recession and divorce;
and his infant granddaughter, Maisie.
This may be the dawn of a new fiction
genre: Reconstituted-Household Lit?
Q: Lacey Yeager, the conniving protagonist of your new novel, AnObjectofBeauty,excels at manipulat- ing men—and even auctions—to acquire the artwork she desires. Have you met her in the real world? A: You run into these kinds of fascinating characters in all walks of life, especially show business, which is narcissistic—as are the arts. Manipulators can puzzle you for years after they leave your life. But the real point of the book—for me—is the dam- age caused by these people. Even when it’s acciden- tal, they leave a string of hurt behind. They believe veryone should be able to handle it—because they’re doing nothing but being honest. Q: Are you ever tempted to chuck film and music to write full-time? A: Well, I don’t have a job, so the day is empty. (Laughs.) But the maximum I can write is two or three hours a day. Although I think about it a lot. On this book I already had the subject and the character, but I thought about the point of view and the voice for about a year before I started writing. Q: It sounds like you’re growing more confident of your writing chops with the passage of time. A: Yes, I am. It used to be that when I came up with an especially lyrical line I’d
check it out with about 10 different people to make sure it was okay. But now I just
tend to accept it. And I have a live-in editor; my wife used to work at The New Yorker.
Q: You’re a serious art collector. Are there works you’d never sell?
A: Well, I had an Ed Ruscha painting of
the Hollywood sign; I sold that as a sort
of symbolic gesture when I left L.A.
for Aspen in 1971. I have a magnificent
Edward Hopper painting that I’ll prob-
ably never sell, plus a very good Francis
Bacon and a couple of Seurat drawings.
Q: Do you paint images of your own?
A: Oh, no, no. No, you’ll never see that
happening. (Laughs.) —Allan Fallow
I Remember Nothing B Y NORA EPHRON. The funny lady
strikes again with this roundup of plaints and plaudits about
creative flops, waiters who interrupt, the plight of the modern moviegoer (think cardboard food and paper-thin walls),
and cutting her writing teeth at Newsweek. “I have many
symptoms of old age,” writes Ephron at 69. Among them: “I
have no idea who anyone in People magazine is.” —A.F.
She Feels Bad About Her Brain
MARY ANN IN AUTUMN BY ARMISTEAD MAUPIN Fans of Maupin’s Tales of the City will rejoice in this lightly quieter novel,
which finds Michael “Mouse” Tolliver
“pushing 60” and now married to a
younger man, and a divorced 57-year-
old Mary Ann Singleton returning to
San Francisco to face cancer surgery
with her oldest friend by her side.
SHOCK OF GRAY
BY TED C. FISHMAN
The aging of the
claims Fishman, is
draining the resources
of societies worldwide.
It “pits young against old, child against
parent, and…nation against nation.”
Fishman’s anecdotal approach made
a better argument in China, Inc. than it
does here, but his debatable thesis is
balanced by some vivid local color.
TOP LEFT: MARY ELLEN MATTHEWS/CORBIS OUTLINE
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