What Makes Steve Martin Run?
October 14, 2010
Title: Born Standing Up
By: Steve Martin
Copies of this book keep passing through my hands, as I sort through the library gifts. Such is my job. I must make a quick decision; one can’t read all the books, after all. One looks at reviews, similar books, how often they check out.
But this one, every time I open it and start reading. I often do that with books, at least a quick peek, but this one I have trouble stopping. I’ve read the whole thing by now.
Movie star biographies are a dime a dozen. After a while they all can seem the same. Perhaps they’re all written by the same ghostwriter. This one is different. Steve Martin is really smart, and he can really write. (Or else he has a really good ghostwriter.)
It’s the same old story: he’s young and broke and trying to become rich and famous in Hollywood. He drops a lot of names, but he’s in the scene with them, he’s just describing his own rise to being one of those names himself. He gets on Johnny Carson. He dates Dalton Trumbo’s daughter. And so forth. But it’s a smart, sensitive fellow who is on the ride this time.
It might help if you like his peculiar sense of humor, or you recognize the Southern California of the sixties and seventies he haunts, or you (secretly or not-so-secretly) share his burning ambition to be a success at what, in Los Angeles, is simply known as The Business. Or at least you like to read about it; lots of folks do. And it ends happily, or at least he does end up famous, which is all that matters, right.
This book is not new; it came out in 2007. However, I keep adding copies, and they all keep being checked out.
Readalike recommendation: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher.
Just don’t tell your highbrow friends. Tell them you’re reading What Makes Sammy Run by Budd Schulberg, which is not bad either and has literary cachet to boot.