“Shopgirl” by Steve Martin

I intended to write this review much earlier in the week, but I was having a hard time figuring out how to articulate my feelings.


This novalle was written by Steve Martin, a well-known actor, musician, and comedian. If it had been written by anyone else, I highly doubt it would have been published, or at least received the level of attention it has. The plot is a typical young-girl-moves-to-big-city-and-finds-herself story with little in terms of variation or originality. Simply put, it was boring. You really get the impression that Martin was trying to be poignant, too, which makes the whole thing that much more disappointing. With the author’s background I was expecting Shopgirl to be funny, but it wasn’t at all. It was only in retrospect that I realized attempts at humor had been made, they had just failed to completely I didn’t see them for what they were trying to be until after the fact.

However, there was the occasional passage in Shopgirl that stunned with its beauty and delicacy, even more so for the fact that these gems were buried within an otherwise unremarkable novella. Here’s one that stuck out to me:

The night scares her. Then the uneasiness gives way to a momentary and frightening levitation of her mind above her body. She can feel her spirit disconnect from her corporeal self, and her heart starts racing. She had felt its calling card months earlier, this unwelcome visitor in her body, who seemed to fly through her and then was gone. This time it is stronger than before, and it stays longer. It is as though her body is held down by weights and her mind is being methodically disassembled.

In case any of you were wondering what depression is like, that’s it right there. That’s exactly how it feels. It felt odd to come across something so real in the middle of a story so flat and predictable I was struggling to finish it, which is why I found it so hard to write this review. But there you have it, an average novella with a few above average passages which nearly counteract the sheer banality of the storyline, but not quite.

Oh well. Moving on.

Title: Shopgirl
Author: Steve Martin
Published: 2000, Hyperion
Pages: 130
Would Recommend: The only circumstances under which I would recommend this book to anyone are 1) if you’re a huge Steve Martin fan and just need to experience everything he’s ever done, or 2) you come across the book for either very cheap or free like I did. Otherwise, I don’t see much of a point.
Up Next: Clay by David Almond


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