SHOPGIRL - Steve Martin - 2000
Having read and enjoyed two of Steve Martin's 15 books, "Born Standing Up", and "An Object of Beauty" I just added "Shopgirl" – a 130 page novella - to my list. I wasn't disappointed; he continues his insightful ruminations about the inner most and even mundane thoughts and desires that drive the lives of his protagonists. It is painfully evident that his analysis of their secret desires, their short comings, and their delusional views of their own lives and the lives of others around them are drawn from his own experience and the close observation of those near to him. He delivers these jewels of insight in his best sober, understated, funny and self-deprecating manner.
Our shop girl is Mirabelle, an LA transplant from Vermont. She is a 28 year-old, moderately talented sketch artist who is trapped in a dead-end job, paying off her student loan, by selling ladies evening gloves behind a counter in a large department store. She has a natural beauty but fails to promote her innate good taste or her best attributes. This leads to her mostly lonely existence and frustrated experiences of intimacy in her love-life. A love-life that includes a clumsy and amusingly failed love scene with an inept young lover. In steps an older, wealthy, divorced man who plays a significant role in her evolution toward getting control of her life.
For those of you who have yet to discover Steve Martin “the writer”, I can happily suggest adding this short novel to your list.
While you’re at it, include “Born Standing Up” for a perspicacious view into the hard work of becoming a successful comedian. And, drawing upon his own experiences as a serious art collector, he delivers an entertaining, and penetrative story in “An Object of Beauty”’; an inside look at the intrigue and deception that controls the New York City art market.