Shopgirl

More Steve Martin!  I actually saw the movie before I got to read the book so unfortunately I knew what was going to happen.  I’m trying to cut back on how much I say “the book was so much better than the movie” and I surprisingly don’t feel that way this time.  The thing about the book is that it offers a view into the minds of the characters who are complex and intricate and there’s no good way to do that in a movie without narrating or having the characters speak their thoughts aloud.  Fightclub almost got away with it, but it’s such an awkward thing to do that it didn’t completely fly.

Again, Steve Martin writes carefully and thoughtfully and it shows in his characters and the narration of the story.  Reading Mirabelle was fascinating.  Her full complexity didn’t come through in the movie for the reason I stated before, but on paper it was easy to relate to her and feel for her.  Not just a shy young woman, she truly doesn’t understand herself or the world she lives in and incorrectly believes that if she could find someone that loved her, everything would be resolved.  Really, she has to change and solidify herself before anything can get better, but through the relationships that take place in the story she does just that.  This is actually a major theme of the story: growing up or perhaps coming into your own.  Mirabelle’s foil, Lisa, became a sad favorite character, even though she was not major.  Her ideas about relationships and her own self worth made her tangible and made me care about her.  I had trouble relating to Jeremy, and I don’t think it was his writing but if he had been a real person I probably wouldn’t find him appealing in any sense.  Ray was another favorite, though there are so few characters that it’s a little pointless picking favorites.  He made sense, was logical but his hang ups were presented in a way that made him feel real.  Nothing felt as though he was created as a stereotype or a convenient plot device.

I mentioned that there are only a few characters that get much attention and this is what I like about Steve Martin’s writing: he focuses on a few lives, or even one life, for a brief period of time, shares it and then leaves it.  It’s like looking at a picture that captures one moment in time.  And there is nothing pushy about the ideas and lessons of his writing, merely an offering of them to look at, listen to and then tuck away in your brain so that later you might think of them.  I also have to say that if L.A. is as he presents it, I would be more willing to visit.

One last note: Shopgirl is a novella which means that it is a short novel.  It is not simpler because it’s short; there’s a lot to absorb and I imagine that this story should be reread later on so that you can refresh yourself and pick out new things missed before.

With that I’m finished praising Mr. Martin for a little while at least.

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One Comment

  1. Pam Ankersen says:

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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