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In Brief: "Pure Drivel

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Movie star-playwright Steve Martin's Pure Drivel (Hyperion; $19.95) is a worthwhile collection of spankingly inventive, though sometimes affected, farcical essays, many of which were published in The New Yorker. Martin's legion of voices poke fun at bi-coastal nuance, public convention, art, technology, showbiz, politics, and punctuation -- all while lampooning the writer and celebrating the word. The laugh track softens as the book progresses, but each installment proves Martin's other gift: restoring lightness to the printed page. Buy it for your bathroom -- or wherever else you can enjoy the reeling apology of a heedless politico or a segment on the life of words as written by the noun underpants.


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