The more I learn about him, the more convinced I am that Steve Martin is the ultimate Renaissance man. I read his most recent novel, An Object of Beauty, a few months ago and was impressed by his authorial talents, as well as his knowledge of great art. Though Shopgirl is a piece of his from a bit further back, I was even more enamored of this short novel brought to the world by one of our most accomplished actors, comedians, and writers.
Straightforward and concise, I loved Martin’s writing style in Shopgirl. He draws perfectly mismatched, matter of fact characters with great clarity and brilliance. In contrast to the almost cold and distant third-person narrative style Martin employs, the story itself is quite tender and touching. Mirabelle works in Neiman’s at the glove counter, a job with which she finds herself quite content, despite a lack of customers or excitement in her day to day. When an elegant older man named Ray Porter finds himself drawn to the glove shopgirl, the two embark on a mutual navigation of intimacy and relationships. Mirabelle, the mid-20s woman with little experience in love and Ray, the divorcee who still has yet to discover how to treat a woman.
Martin’s Shopgirl is a sweet if not slightly melancholy story of love. Touched with the subtle wit and humor you would expect of a comedian, Shopgirl is a distinctly different piece of art from much of the work for which you probably know Steve Martin. It is nonetheless an enveloping story full of heart that is not to be missed.