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Shopgirl: A Novella by Steve Martin

Shopgirl: A Novella (original 2000; edition 2006)

by Steve Martin

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3,695911,421 (3.5)74
Title:Shopgirl: A Novella
Authors:Steve Martin
Info:Hyperion (2006), Mass Market Paperback, 144 pages
Collections:Your library

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Shopgirl by Steve Martin (2000)


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Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
It's confirmed. I have a bit of a crush on Steve Martin.

Sensory descriptions like this make me weak in the knees:...the various scents that have been sprayed throughout the day onto waiting customers have collected into strata in the department store air. So Mirabelle, at five-six, always smells Chanel number 5, while someone at five-two is always treated to the heavier Chanel number 19. I love that I can almost visualize the strata, and I immediately imagine walking through that store with girlfriends of different heights and each of us thinking that the store smells like something different.

Mirabelle (played by Claire Danes in the movie, which is coming up on my Netflix queue as soon as I catch up on Downton Abbey) is a salesgirl in the nearly deserted gloves department of an upscale department store in souther California. Shopgirl is primarily the story of Mirabelle and two men: one a slacker type (played by Jason Schwartzman) with whom Mirabelle becomes passively involved, the other an older and wealthier businessman (played by Martin himself) with whom Mirabelle finds herself in an unexpectedly deep relationship. The former is described thusly: He never complicates a desire by overthinking it, unlike Mirabelle, who spins a cocoon around an idea until it is immobile. This kind of pithy insight into his characters' emotions is one of Martin's great strengths as a writer.

You know how sometimes you look up from a book, or work, or a good conversation, and realize it's gotten dark outside without you realizing it? In other words, a dramatic change has occurred, but so gradually that you can't pinpoint when it happened. I felt that way about the unfolding of the characters' personalities; by the end of the book I felt that I fiercely understood Mirablle, but I can't point to a specific moment when I began to understand her motivations. As a whole, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters' journey, though at times it seemed largely a passive one.

I withheld a star because of the ending. Whereas the rest of this novella was marked by the slow, quiet progress of three characters' lives, the last several pages were composed of clipped summaries that spanned months and years in just a few short paragraphs. It felt rushed and abridged after the patient pace of the rest of the book, and left me feeling disappointed and unsatisfied. Still, I liked the rest of it so much that I recommend Shopgirl rather highly if you're in need of a short book that is mostly sweet but has a thread of melancholy. But if you have time for something longer, pick up Martin's An Object of Beauty instead. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Shopgirl by Steve Martin - OK (on reflection, disappointing)

Really not sure about this book. Not even sure where I found it - could have been an unregistered one from Hemma. When I saw it was by Steve Martin I thought it would be worth a shot. It's also just a novella and as I'm awaiting a bookray, I needed a quick read.

This is written in the third person and I really didn't like that. I'm not sure where all the acclaim on the back comes from, reading it I had high hopes - very disappointed.

Anyway, the shopgirl is question is Mirabelle and she works on the glove counter at Neiman's. Beverley Hills. As no one really buys gloves anymore, she's not exactly busy and this allows her to day dream and the freedom to work on her art in the evenings. The story documents her troubled love life, but doesn't really go anywhere.

Yeah, disappointing would be a better verdict than OK.

( )
  Cassandra2020 | Jan 24, 2016 |
Sad portrayals (fantasies actually) of beautiful but pathetic, helpless women.
A quite unnecessary deployment of the word "cunt".
A simplistic, almost romanticized characterization of depression.

Just all very disturbing. I'm not pleased, Steve Martin. ( )
  annadanz | Jul 5, 2015 |
I wish I had made a note of why I entered this title on my Wish List to Read. From the moment the writing provided on page 13, "She drives in the same posture as she walks, overly erect. The glasses give her a librarian quality-before libraries were on CD-ROM-and the '89 Toyota truck she drives indicates a librarian's salary too." Really?
I'm a former librarian. I don't appreciate this description especially in a book with a copyright date of 2000 and by an individual that I consider to be educated and have global awareness on a large subject base.
I continued reading and finished the book but I certainly wasn't riveted to the storyline. I would not recommend this book and I find it difficult to understand why The New York Post said, "Shopgirl is a small triumph."
I understand this book became a "Major Motion Picture" starring Steve Martin. I generally like Steve Martin movies but I think I'll skip this one. ( )
  Corduroy7 | Aug 6, 2014 |
Read this a LONG time ago. Since it was Steve Martin, I wanted it to be funnier. ( )
  steadfastreader | Mar 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
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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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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)

A young, beautiful, shy girl named Mirabelle, a glove counter worker at Neiman Marcus, begins a relationship with a wealthy businessman old enough to be her father.

(summary from another edition)

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