Mirabelle is the "shopgirl" of the title, a young woman, beautiful in a wallflowerish kind of way, who works behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus "Selling things that nobody buys anymore..."
Slightly lost but not off-kilter, very shy, Mirabelle charms because of all that she is not: not glamorous, not aggressive, not self-aggrandizing. Still there is something about her that is irresistible.
Mirabelle captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy businessman almost twice her age. As they tentatively embark on a relationship, they both struggle to decipher the language of love - with consequences that are both comic and heartbreaking. Filled with the kind of witty, discerning observations that have brought Martin critical success, Shopgirl is a work of disarming tenderness.
Don't miss Steve Martin, Christopher Buckley, and other humorists discussing their craft at the New Yorker Festival.
©2000 Steve Martin, All Rights Reserved; (P)2000 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All Rights Reserved, AUDIOWORKS Is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
"Martin's elegant, bleak, desolatingly sad first novella is in every sense his most serious work to date." (The New York Times Book Review)
This was my first audible book to listen to and I am now hooked. I loved this book so much that I bought the bound version for 11 of my friends and relatives for Christmas, however I believe they may not enjoy it as much as I since they won't be fortunate enought to "hear" the author read it. I would love to see more from Steve Martin, as writer or narrator.
The only negative is that the book seems to end in the middle of Mirabelle's of a sub-plot. It was such a strange spot to stop that I thought my player was broken our hadn't downloaded the entire book. If I had been "reading" the book I would have anticipated how close I was to the end, but with audio you never really know, and this book did not end well. Still I enjoyed it a great deal, perhaps there will be a sequeal, to pick up where this one strangely stops.
Having majored in Comparative Literature at a well-known university, I admit to being something of a literary snob. I had uncertain expectations for this novella by an actor. I was very pleasantly surprised and impressed by this well-paced, original story. First of all, the narrative itself is an inventive twist on a conventional love triangle. In fact, it is not really a love triangle at all, but rather the simultaneous story of three intersecting lovers. Secondly, Mr. Martin enriches the tale by weaving in all sorts of precise and humorous observations on daily life, depression, relationships, love, ambition, inertia, and human eccentricities. Some reviewers have said Mr. Martin did not do a good job at expressing and developing the female point of view. Quite the contrary, I was amazed at how well he seemed to be able to crawl into the female psyche. All the characters, with the possible exception of Lisa, were interesting, well-rounded, and real. I cared about them. I don't understand how people can say this book was depressing. Yes, there are moments of despair, but the end is so uplifting (without being trite and "Hollywoodesque") and the story is all about people lifting themselves up, learning to take control of their lives. How is that depressing? Plus some of the laugh-out-loud funny moments (like Lisa's capture of 'Ray') really balance the sadder moments in the book. I also felt that Mr. Martin was an excellent reader (and I have listened to hundreds of audio books). My only complaint is that the last quarter of the book read a bit like an epilogue. It was as if Mr. Martin was on a deadline or trying to meet a page limit, so he summarized the action in a sort of play-by-play rather than really writing the end of the book. I would have loved to read more of his wonderful prose, injected as it was with clever turns of phrase, interesting bon mots, and believable streams of consciousness.
This is a surprisingly charming and insightful book. Martin's writing is crisp, and his characters seem true and real. He's also an excellent reader.
This book is amazing. I read a review which stated women don't think that way...and that person was right. All women don't. I did when I was the age of the main character. I found it very easy to believe in all of the characters of this book and lose myself in the story. It was beautiful.
And Steve Martin is truly the only person who could read the book. More authors should read their own unabridged works (ahem...Alan Alda, I'm looking at you).
to quote LA Story: "All I could think to myself was wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, more wonderful, and yet again wonderful". Mr. Martin's somewhat deadpan delivery of this beautifully subtle work lets his character's words shine through so clearly. To call this a romantic comedy undermines the insights that Martin casts onto life and personal relationships, and ignores the fascinating darker side of this tale. His descriptions of male libido both young and old, female sexuality, and the way we interact with our universe really stick with me. I have listened to this book over and over again, and every time I get to the end, I want to start over and hear it again.
I am amazed at this book. Truly astounded. Still coming out of a relationship so parallel to Mirabelle's it amazes me, Steve's portrayal of Ray Porter and the insight into his mind has left me stunned, smiling and so openly understanding some of the background thoughts of my own relationship. I am refreshed! The characters and Steve's narrative are so novel and bright. I hope he continues with these characters. I will be awaiting another installment!
A great book! Martin shows incredible insight into how males and females differ in expectations, approach, etc. to life and each other. Prior reviews point out the sex and depressive situations, but, for a lot of people, that is how they go through relationships and life... and Martin does an excellent job of shining light into those corners of people. I'm glad it doesn't have a "hollywood" ending, because that would cheapen the whole experience of the book. I wouldn't be surprized if this book received several literary awards.
I enjoy mysteries, NOT thrillers, contemporary fiction, especially about diverse cultures, and sometimes history, if it doesn't involve too many dates. I often listen to a book multiple times, discovering unnoticed details in the retelling.
Steve Martin gives an excellent in-depth character portrayal in a novel which keeps you laughing, snickering, smiling and raising your eyebrows. An especially good novel for the twenty-year olds begin to find their way into relationships.
This is a character study in many ways, and I wanted to know more about Mirabelle and what happened to her. Steve Martin continues to be an astute observor of that rarified area known as Los Angeles...if you liked LA Story, you'll enjoy this.
I know that I should have done a better job of managing my expectations when I settled into my car to listen to Steve Martin's "Shopgirl." Over the years, I have admired how the author has managed to keep a strong following while at the same time continuing to push into more "mature" projects. That said, I found myself a bit disappointed by the story of Mirabelle the Shopgirl.
Mirabelle is the saleswoman at the counter of the glove department of Nieman Marcus. Mirabelle is a small-town girl fighting depression and loneliness in Los Angeles. She is in her mid-twenties, feeling her way through her post-college awkwardness in a city that doesn't know what to do with a shy artist from Vermont.
We follow Mirabelle through two romantic relationships. One with a wealthy businessman and another with a slacker in the guitar amplifier business. The meat of the book is found in the inner-thoughts of the characters who are all feeling their way through the politics of sex, commitment, love, and relationships. Interestingly, I found that the descriptions of the thoughts of the secondary characters were more fully explored than those of the main character. I suspect that the thoughts of the male characters came more easily to the author. Somehow, I found the thoughts of the shop-girl herself to be largely caricatures of what men think that women are probably thinking. I'd be interested to hear the comments of women that have read this book.
I doubt that I would have even considered this book had it not been for my familiarity of Steve Martin. That being said, it was a nice non-challenging book to listen to while commuting. Don't come expecting the Steve Martin of The Three Amigos. Don't come expecting the Steve martin of The Spanish Prisoner either.
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