Shopgirl is a love triangle with a twist of reality

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

Shopgirl, a novel written by comedian, actor, screenwriter and novelist Steve Martin, is an introspective and somewhat dark tale of a lonely young woman traversing through the murky waters of her past, present and possible futures. This New York Times best-seller is beautifully crafted with a well-woven plot and intense word usage.

The young woman depicted in Shopgirl, Mirabelle, is a glove salesgirl at Neiman Marcus. She finds her position there rather obsolete, as gloves are no longer part of the average person’s wardrobe. This feeling of uselessness is echoed into the rest of her life as she realizes she isn’t significant to anyone in her life, nor does she have anyone significant in her life.

The story really begins when Martin introduces two possible love interests into Mirabelle’s existence. Although she doesn’t realize it, Mirabelle is choosing between these two men as she struggles through life’s ups and downs. Jeremy and Ray, Mirabelle’s suitors, are also struggling. Although they are in different places in their lives, they are both struggling with the same issue – becoming real men.

Ray’s search in particular is beautifully encapsulated by Martin at one point in the book: “These experiences have caused him [Ray] to think very hard about what he is doing and where he is going. And the result of all this thinking is that he now understands that he doesn’t know what he is doing or where he is going.”

Refreshingly short, this book can be read in one evening if a person puts his mind to it. The novella is also refreshingly thought-provoking and even though it provokes deep and somewhat dark thoughts, it is still entertaining and even comical. This is due in part to the fact that Martin writes as though he were having a personal conversation with the reader and at times his prose becomes poetic.

One such example of Martin’s well-crafted writing occurs on Mirabelle and Ray’s first date. “At this point, Ray Porter imagines an entirely different iceberg beneath Mirabelle’s psychic waterline than the one that actually exists.”

The overarching theme of the book was that pain changes things and a person can, and should, decide whether the pain will have a positive or negative effect. Because of this, the book is somewhat painful, but I love a happy ending, even if it is a painful process to get to the happy ending. Therefore, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Final Grade: A+