Report on the Pleasure of My Company

by Steve Martin

Thank you very much to those absent for sending in their comments and recommendations – your company was missed at the book club last night. Thanks to Mr Maye and Mr Hensey for a quite thoughtful and wide-ranging discussion. Despite (maybe as a result of) the small numbers we pushed on for quite a stretch and time flew and I for one thoroughly enjoyed. To those not present: your contributions enlivened the discussion asynchronously.

It was gratifying for me to hear that there was unanimous enjoyment of Steve Martin’s Pleasure of My Own Company. A surprising and unexpected enjoyment seemed to be a commonly held reaction – begging the question as to why preconception suggested that one would not enjoy it?

One question raised – and left unanswered – is how someone suffering from similar mental challenges might have found the treatment in the novel? I am also interested in the voice or face that readers heard/saw when they read it. I very much heard Sheldon ( – which I also read into the Rosie Project and Principle) where Mr Hensey saw Steve Martin the starring role. He further wondered as a result how many of the movie and screenplay characterisations of Steve Martin reflect his real life character – The Jerk, Roxanne come to mind in portraying an oddball loner, but one largely comfortable and confident in the role.

Anyway, the grades are in (save that from Mr Costello) and they are as follows:
Mr O’D – 6
Mr W – 6
Mr O’S – 6.5
Mr C – ? (feel free to throw down but we appreciate that it may be tainted at this stage ;-)
Mr M – 6
Mr H – 7.5
Mr D – 8

I add as I am writing this that I felt very satisfied by the novel. The right size, the right amount of character development, fully entertaining and gripped me from about 10% leading me to read it through over two days. I felt I learned from it and it caused me to question my own behaviour at times – perhaps some truths in behaviour hit too close to home for those absent? ;-)

So, the Pleasure of My Own Company was a solid positive and we move on to May…
The discussion around our next read was similarly spirited. Thanks for the recommendations from away.

Mr O’Dea tendered Blood Year – a look at the failure of the West to deal with the rise of ISIS;
Mr O’Sullivan suggested Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates – exploring the origins of the American self-declared role as the world’s policeman;
At Smyth’s we received three further submissions:
Mr Hensey suggested Mind on Fire, a biography of R.W. Emerson by Robert Richardson and inspired by the repeated references in many of the works we have been appreciating to Emerson and a feeling that it would be useful/valuable/appropriate to have a wider understanding of these allusions. A further suggestion, down a not dissimilar line, was the Plato’s Socratic Dialogues to provide a fuller foundation for many of the discussions that we have – all intentionally or unintentionally based on many of the moral precepts introduced and voiced in this work (these works). (I also hope I have captured my colleague’s intentions there).
My Maye tabled Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson – exploring the revealing and possibly shocking nature of the modern American justice system which seems to be institutionally racist and has embraced a privatised system driven by an agenda absolutely connected from any sense of ‘justice’. A shocking fact that 1:3 black men born after 1980 (I hope I might have caught that roughly) will spend time incarcerated by this system. Scary to me. <Insert inappropriate humour: Especially as Steve Martin was born a poor black child to impoverished sharecroppers and is still black from the neck down and wrists up (sorry – The Jerk).>
I did not throw in any suggestions as I am clearly resting on having managed a well-received suggestion last month.

After much discussion, we propose something experimental in most ways (possibly grand but with all the talks of coalitions of such or otherwise avoid that word) for our April/May read.

Mr Hensey’s suggestion (and he stands over it) of Plato’s Socratic Dialogues is a short journey into the very heart and soul of the social philosophy that grounds much of our moral understanding today. We, therefore, propose to adopt this short read as our next and to hopefully inspire some fruitful discussion at our next meeting.

I located: Plato Five Dialogues (Hackett Readings in Philosophy) Plato, Cooper and Grube at $5 in the US store, but am sure this one comes from a variety of sources and formats. The one I mention offers some light commentary to hopefully aid in its accessibility.

Are you up for it gentlemen? The book club inevitably seems to inspire reading things one may not necessarily be so inclined to so do.

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