I’ve been a fan of Steve Martin’s since I was 13-years-old. What impressed me about him back in the ‘70s was his silly ode to King Tut and his impressive balloon animal skills. My small hardback copy of Cruel Shoes survived three moves and even more spring cleanings. Later decades and a string of successful movies and books by Martin would allow me to see the intelligence behind the humor that is his trademark.
I recently listened to the audio book of Martin’s novella Shopgirl (2000). I’m wary of listening to an audio book read by the author. Most times it seems ego driven and the author doesn’t always do justice to the story. I suppose since Martin is an actor as well as a writer it worked in this case. He’s able to read his own words with the exact tone of pathos, sarcasm, humor or sadness that they call for.
Shopgirl is about a trio of Los Angelites: Mirabelle Buttersfield, who works a counter at Neiman’s, is several years past college age but still lives a student’s poor life, including owning the requisite cheap futon that folds her guests into impossible yoga positions; Jeremy Kraft, a Mirabelle admirer who is sure he could be The One, if only he had the money and social skills to do it; and Ray Porter, a 50-something Seattle millionaire who has a penchant for shopgirls who live on budgets. Mirabelle’s two suitors don’t suit her at all. What’s a poor girl to do?
I’m somewhat jaded by romance stories because I think I know how they'll end, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Shopgirl was made into a movie in 2005, and stars Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman and Steve Martin as Mirabelle, Jeremy and Ray, respectively.
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The Compleat Steve