Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Book Review: Number One Is Walking
I picked this book up during my local Barnes & Noble's moving sale. I went on the last day, and there were several copies of this book present, more than any other of the remaining inventory. I should've taken that as a sign to skip it, but I'm a lifelong Steve Martin fan, so I couldn't resist.
This book is marketed as an illustrated memoir of Steve Martin's acting career. It doesn't come close to be worthy of being called a memoir. It is a collection of various anecdotes from a few selected films which were then boiled down to brief, one or two-page, illustrations. They leave you wondering, "And then what happened?" But rather than provide any sort of elaboration, the book moves on to the next anecdote.
And the anecdotes only make up one-third to two-fifths of the book—I was too annoyed to get any more precise than that as there are no page numbers, and that would require more math than this book was worth. The rest of the book is a collection of New Yorker cartoons that Martin collaborated with the illustrator, Harry Bliss, on. These were fine. They were cute, whimsical notes of satire, but printed one to a page (the back-side being left blank).
Despite this being illustrated, I was hoping for something more. Martin's memoir of his early years, Born Standing Up, was an excellent work detailing how he got his start in show business and ran through his early career as a stand-up comic, including why he gave it up. I was hoping that this would detail his career in film in the same way. It looks like we'll have to wait for that.