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Shopgirl [Paperback]

Steve Martin
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 Jun 2001

Mirabelle works as a shop assistant in the glove department at Niemans, L.A.¿s finest store; she also draws darkly gothic pictures at night. Adrift in the world and lonely, her situation is not improved by the fact that hardly anyone buys the kind of gloves that Niemans sell so she spends most of her day leaning on the counter staring into empty space. There are two men in her life ¿ Jeremy, a man who stencils amplifiers for a living, and Mr Ray Porter, an older man and millionaire who applies logic to relationships, and is serially confused and disappointed.

In this exquisitely self-contained novel, Steve Martin touches on the surface horrors of L.A. ¿ the false noses, lips, breasts and people ¿ without exaggeration or explicitly playing for laughs. It¿s insightful, dark, funny and tender Shopgirl is an incredibly strong piece of fiction.



Product details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (21 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753812835
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753812839
  • Product Dimensions: 19.5 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 261,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Shopgirl is comedian Steve Martin's first foray into fiction, and manages to be as assured as it is surprising, coming from the usually zany Martin. Set in contemporary Los Angeles, its fascination with the surreal body fascism of upper-class America feels like familiar Martin territory, but the shopgirl of the book's title is the figure that will surprise Martin fans. Mirabelle Buttersfield works in the glove department of Neimans, "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, Mirabelle spends 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 Mirabelle "without obligation". Complicating the picture is Mirabelle's voracious rival in the opposite sex, her fellow Neimans shopgirl Lisa, who uses sex "for attracting and discarding men".

The mutual incomprehension, psychological damage and sheer vacuity practised by all four of Martin's characters sees Shopgirl veer rather uncomfortably between a comedy of manners and a very black comedy. 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 America, but Shopgirl is still an enjoyable, if rather light read. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A highly acclaimed L.A. fable by one of Hollywood¿s greatest comics

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Entertaining. 5 Dec 2000
Format:Hardcover
I really enjoyed this novella and read it in one go. The witty narrative made me laugh and think at the same time. The communication breakdown between man and woman is particularly realistic. I would recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed Martin's other writings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars shop pearl 5 April 2001
Format:Hardcover
this book is excellently written...martin continues to suprise me in his writtings..and with this book its not a case of i couldnt put it down..its a case of i didnt want to put it down...cant wait for the next one steve
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shopgirl is a wee gem of a book. 13 Feb 2001
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Some of my girlfriends who have read this novella insisted that it was a sad little story about a girl with an empty life looking for a guy to fill the void. Although I can see that Shopgirl has a definite blue feeling to it as you turn the pages, it's ultimately a heartwarming tale. Yes, the main character, Mirabelle, is lonely and her life is empty and there is nothing on her horizon to entice her forward, but she keeps on going and tries to let her creativity breathe. When the older Ray Porter comes on the scene, is he the key to a better life for Mirabelle, or does he represent the promise of a better life? Without giving too much away, all I'll say is that when you reach the final full-stop, you feel satisfied and realise that maybe it's the guy who's been looking for something to fill his empty life. This is an elegantly written book that you can enjoy in an afternoon. It serves as a reminder that the bad times have their part to play in our lives.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Nice gentle story and same for the film 6 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well done to write a nice human story considered to be semi autobiographical. Loved the film of the book and enjoyed the tale of relationships in print. Funny, quirky, sad and happy... just like life if you are lucky ! A fairly short novella but tells everything it needs to.
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Format:Paperback
Steve Martin as the new Guy de Maupassant? I'd like to see Guy try stand-up. Good ol' Steve has a stab at evoking human need and - I don't want to come on all Dr Johnson about this, viz women and dogs, but the rather.. ordinary lead character is depicted with surprising empathy, even if she's not quite.. contemporary? (But, as an American reviewer points out, you could hardly call even the slightest novelette Sales Assistant.) The men in her life (all two of them) I found repugnant, but maybe that's realism of a sort. Repressing all reference to day jobs - well done, Steve, and not forgetting your all-important team (but that seems standard these days, even for poets). It's a romance, and as in movies it's the minor characters you feel for, out of Central Casting but giving it their all, in this case Mirabelle's flighty friend, tragic in her way, whose role is to act as lightening conductor for our unpleasantness - the characters who never get to star (except those guys in Sideways..)

You can't not love Steve Martin IMHO but, as another American reviewer put it, 'the rest of the world has to work harder than this to make money'. Now THAT'S funny!
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