I'll be the first to admit that most of the time, the art world holds little fascination for me. I haven't even bothered with Art Basel, one of the world's biggest art events, these past few years, and it's right here in my own backyard.
All that is changing, however, after listening to an audiobook of Steve Martin's novel An Object of Beauty, a comedy of manners that somehow makes a subject in which I have only a marginal interest compelling - and hugely entertaining.
The novel follows the career of the sharp-eyed, sexually voracious and morally bankrupt Lacey Yaeger, who starts as a cog in the great wheel that is Sotheby's and soon enough makes her mark in the art world as a dealer. Along the way she shatters hearts, friendships and a few hard and fast rules of the art world. Narrated with sardonic restraint by her old friend Daniel, an art writer, An Object of Beauty is a modern-day morality tale, with Martin acting as a wry guide through the ebbs and flows of the art market. I plan to track down more of his books soon, and not just because I grew up in the era of "getting small."
The best reason to opt for the audiobook over the print version is actor Campbell Scott, who quite simply is one of the best readers I've heard. He's funny and slips deftly in and out of the characters' voices (and also does credible French and Russian accents), and he also manages Lacey's voice without slipping into high-pitched mimicry.