By Steve Martin
Reviewed by Emily
“Wait… Shopgirl… That sounds familiar…” You might be thinking.
“Isn’t that a movie?” Yes. It is now.
“Oh! And it’s by Steve Martin… But is that Steve Martin?” One and the same.
Shopgirl is the delicate novella by Steve Martin about a journey of love. Mirabelle is a lost angel in the city of Los Angeles. Her damaged and gentle demeanor is irresistible to most, and she dutifully chooses the people who, of course, cannot give her what she really wants: to be loved.
An alarmingly stark yet quietly hilarious read, Shopgirl will pull you in from the first few pages. There is a sort of love triangle set-up between Mirabelle, a late twenties artist slash glove salesperson at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, Jeremy, an immature puppy, and Ray Porter, the man-child millionaire. The journey of our dear Mirabelle is written so honestly that it will be hard to separate your feelings from those of the characters after a few chapters. I have never before felt such sympathy and compassion for a main character in just 130 pages. And while Ray Porter’s point of view is shallow and crude at times, it is nothing short of brutal gospel. In the end, we re-learn a very important lesson, not just in love, but in ourselves. I won’t spoil it, but you will be relieved and delighted at not only the outcome, but also your personal relation to the story. Be warned that this quick read allows the reader an intimate look behind the curtain of our heroine’s search for love. Therefore, there are parts that are jarring and bizarre. But what a precise and painfully honest web Martin weaves.
Setting aside the fact that I am a huge Steve Martin fan, I would yell my recommendation of this book from a mountain top. His writing carries a range of emotions from page to page, and which left me vulnerable and engrossed. There were so many little parts of this novella that were written so precisely that I found myself reading them over and over, just to let the beauty of the prose sink in.
It’s not necessarily a “light” story, but a genuine one. Take a few days to peek in on Mirabelle’s mistakes and her victory in love. And trust me when I say that the smile you’re left with at the end will be one that you cherish.