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Shopgirl: A Novella Paperback – October 3, 2001
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The mutual incomprehension, psychological damage, and sheer vacuity practiced by all four of Martin's characters sees Shopgirl veer rather uncomfortably between a comedy of manners and a much darker work. There are some startling passages of description and interior monologue, but the characters are often rather hazy types. Martin tries too hard in his attempt to write a psychologically intense novel about West Coast anomie, but Shopgirl is still an enjoyable, if rather light, read. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
I HIGHLY recommend this book.
The reader immediately got a sense of the hand-to-mouth existence Mirabelle was leading due to this almost dead-end, low-paying job at Nieman Marcus. I was touched by the sentence about the one thing she really wanted: "someone to talk to". Later in the book, Martin made her paralyzing depression so very real to me that I could feel her desperation and clearly imagine her hitting bottom, emotionally.
Here's a *Martinism* I loved...he calls Beverly Boulevard a "chameleon street". Very clever choice of words. Here's another: "One man stands in the kitchen of a two-million dollar house that overlooks the city, and the other in a one-room garage apartment that the city overlooked."
Mirabelle's relationship with the elusive and wealthy Ray Porter is played out in this short but ultimately satisfying novel, proving that a good author can tell a complete story in only 130 pages. Mirabelle and Ray dance around each other, both misinterpreting the nuances of the relationship. While I felt sorry for Mirabelle and her less-than-ideal life, I also felt sorry for Ray. He was the real proof of the cliche that "money cannot buy happiness."
I would highly recommend this book. If you have any chance to read or listen to any of Martin's interviews, they will enhance your enjoyment.
This novella does not quite reach the heights of some of his other work, though it is an enjoyable read. It has its wry comic moments but this is a much more straightforward work than I've seen from him before. It is really a character study; mainly of the clinically depressed "shopgirl," Mirabelle but also of a number of other characters--boyfriends Ray & Jeremy, co-worker Lisa, and her parents.
The plot is real and relevant enough, exploring the psyches and relationships of these characters. It suffers from the weakness of many an ambitious novella, however. It introduces intriguing points and doesn't take the time to flesh them out and resolve them. Her father's Vietnam experience and its repercussions, for example, is tossed out and left unexplored. More importantly, however, the story is rushed to its conclusion. The early relationship points are explored and then rushed to their finality. There is a lot more that could have been done with this book.
Perhaps I would have been happier with this piece if I'd read it in a magazine. When I pay money for a book, however, I guess I want more of my money's worth. I'm tired of short works being put in hardcover when they don't qualify. This is a trend in modern fiction that is not to be encouraged.Read more ›
Steve Martin is a talented, observant writer who takes what might in other hands be a banal storyline and crafts it into a marvelous sort of literary still-life. There is no plot to speak of; the beauty of this novella lies in its descriptions and clever turns of phrase.
The book revolves around the largely unexceptional love life of Mirabelle, a shy, depression-prone sales clerk with an artistic flair and difficulty relating to her world. Her paramour, Ray Porter, is an emotionally-challenged older businessman who is unapologetically selfish. Two minor characters provide most of the comic relief: Lisa, a cunning, modern tart who takes Mirabelle's modest success in love as a personal challenge, and Jeremy, a confused Gen X'er who undergoes an improbable transformation. The funniest parts of the book are Martin's description of Lisa's sexual plotting, especially her unusual attention to, shall we say, personal hygiene.
Martin writes with both empathy and humor but never overdoes it and never overreaches. He seems to understand that understatement is one of the most powerful of literary techniques. Some might say that this is a trifle of a book. Maybe so, but it is a delicious morsel all the same.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Charming book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I loved the writing style and insightful story line. This is a gem.Published 27 days ago by eileen danas
It was okay..lots of gratuitous sex- I'm not such a fan of Steve Martin after reading this.Published 2 months ago by Joanne
The title Shopgirl, as well as the cover art, gave me an expectation that this would be a frivolous, light-hearted tale; how surprised I was to discover that this is a complex... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jill Clardy
This is an all time favorite book of mine. I had lost my first edition years ago and was thrilled to get it again. Read morePublished 6 months ago by modgirl21
While in no way stellar or groundbreaking, this novella has a few very heartfelt moments that really got to me. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Clearing_Boxer
This will now number among my favorite books that I will read again and again, because it has so many perfect little truths that speak to wherever you are in life.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer