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Shopgirl by Steve Martin

Shopgirl (2000)

by Steve Martin

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3,943971,899 (3.49)74

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Shopgirl tells the story of Mirabelle Buttersfield, a girl in her late twenties who works behind the counter of Nieman's selling gloves. Only nobody much buys gloves from the store. Throughout the course of the novel, Mirabelle is fleshed out into a character whose moods are as desolate as the shop which in she works. She is courted by Ray Porter, a much older man, and through the course of her relationship with him she and Ray both begin to learn more about themselves and how to relate to others.

While Steve Martin is known for his comedy, the humor in the book (and there is some) is minimal. The novella's strength lies within the observations of human interactions and the inner workings that dictate the day to day life. What has emerged from Steve Martin's first dive into fiction is a surprisingly smart, thoughtful, and philosophical story about the nature of human relationships.

( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
Meh. Not a great book, not a bad book. ( )
  armysquirrel | Jan 1, 2018 |
I picked this up as a “quickie” on my way out of the public library. It was on a shelf right beside the checkout counter. Who has time for 1500 pages when your child is sick, chores need to be done, and work sucks seven and a half hours out of your day, every day? I opted for the short novella. It wasn’t tough to get through, but it was tough to independently imagine, considering I had already watched the movie, and inadvertently kept seeing Steve Martin and Claire Danes as the main characters. Unfair.

I aspired to be impressed by the idea that an actor could also indeed write. Unfortunately, I believe my expectations were too high. I have nothing against Steve Martin, and I admire his attempt at putting words to paper, even concocting a storyline of love. Where the characters had potential at being interesting, the narrative unfortunately “told” me, what I should have been left to infer. Though the author kept proclaiming the female protagonist’s complexity, I thought she was too dim-witted to have allowed herself to be de-valued by a man. And I lost patience with the immaturity and self-absorption of the male character. Where I had hoped for an evolution in the relationship, its inevitable bust was neither disappointing, nor surprising. I suspect there was supposed to be a larger comment hidden within the context of the work. I guess. But you’d have to read hard to get the point about loneliness, desperation, the intermingling of two strangers trying each other on, and somehow in their resistance to self-awareness and the risk of substantial and lasting love, they could do nothing better, but realize their loss—but of course, only too late. Okay.

But then again, I knew it was going to be a quickie. And it sure was. Shop on and pass “Shop Girl” by.

( )
  ZaraD.Garcia-Alvarez | Jun 6, 2017 |
(6/10) I'll be honest I wasn't expecting much when I started this book knowing who the author was. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself chuckling away on my lunch break while reading this, he is a far better writer than I thought he would be.

I found the style and almost total lack of dialogue quite refreshing, it left me feeling like a godlike psychology genius was narrating the story and shaking his head at the stupidity of the characters who thought they knew what they were doing but in actual fact were operating on a completely different level of their own subconscious!

It's a light read and at times it did loose me a bit in some of the longer paragraphs, but it always grabbed me back with a witty one liner. I wasn't overly committed to any of the characters besides the narrator and I was a bit disappointed with the ending, I was hoping Mirabelle and Ray would work it out but instead Ray has a strange epiphany where he works out she was using him as a father substitute (strange as he was so oblivious to complex human feelings the rest of the time), this freaked me out a bit as they fancied each other so much throughout.

Overall not a bad read and something a bit different to my usual fare. ( )
  LiteraryReadaholic | Mar 8, 2017 |
Steve Martin's got a talent for writing. ( )
1 vote kemilyh1988 | Jan 16, 2017 |
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When you work in the glove department at Neiman's, you are selling things that nobody buys anymore.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0786891076, Mass Market Paperback)

Steve Martin's first foray into fiction is as assured as it is surprising. Set in Los Angeles, its fascination with the surreal body fascism of the upper classes feels like the comedian's familiar territory, but the shopgirl of the book's title may surprise his fans. Mirabelle works in the glove department of Neiman's, "selling things that nobody buys any more." Spending her days waiting for customers to appear, Mirabelle "looks like a puppy standing on its hind legs, and the two brown dots of her eyes, set in the china plate of her face, make her seem very cute and noticeable." Lonely and vulnerable, she passes her evenings taking prescription drugs and drawing "dead things," while pursuing an on-off relationship with the hopeless Jeremy, who possesses "a slouch so extreme that he appears to have left his skeleton at home." Then Mr. Ray Porter steps into Mirabelle's life. He is much older, rich, successful, divorced, and selfish, desiring her "without obligation." Complicating the picture is Mirabelle's voracious rival, her fellow Neiman's employee Lisa, who uses sex "for attracting and discarding men."

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Working as a salesgirl at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus, Mirabelle, a beautiful aspiring artist, embarks on a love affair with Ray Porter, a wealthy, lonely businessman she meets at the store, and together they struggle to understand the meaning of love, in a bittersweet tale of romance.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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