One of the most acclaimed and beloved entertainers, Steve Martin is quickly becoming recognized as a gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic (Elle). A frequent contributor to both The New Yorker and the New York Times as well as the author of the New York Times bestseller Pure Drivel, Martin is once again poised to capture the attention of readers with his debut novella, a delightful depiction of life and love.
The shopgirl is Mirabelle, a beautiful aspiring artist who pays the rent by selling gloves at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus. She captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy, lonely businessman. As Ray and Mirabelle tentatively embark on a relationship, they both struggle to decipher the language of love--with consequences that are both comic and heartbreaking. Filled with the kind of witty, discerning observations that have brought Steve Martin incredible critical success, Shopgirl is a work of disarming tenderness.
Movie star Martin shone in the comic essays of last year's Pure Drivel--but can he write serious fiction? His debut novella gives fans a chance to find out. Shy, depressed, young, lonely and usually broke, Vermont-bred Mirabelle Butterfield sells gloves at the Beverly Hills Neiman Marcus (nobody ever buys); at night, she watches TV with her two cats. Martin's slight plot follows Mirabelle's search for love--or at least romance and companionship--with middle-aged Ray Porter, a womanizing Seattle millionaire who may, or may not, have hidden redeeming qualities. Also in and out of Mirabelle's life are a handful of supporting characters, all of them lonely and alienated, too. There's her father, a dysfunctional Vietnam vet; the laconic, unambitious Jeremy; and Mirabelle's promiscuous, body-obsessed co-worker Lisa. Detractors may call Martin's plot predictable, his characters stereotypes. Admirers may answer that--as in Douglas Coupland--these aren't stereotypes but modern archetypes, whose lives must be streamlined if they are to represent ours. Except for its love-hate relations with L.A., little about this book sounds much like Martin; its anxious, sometimes flat prose style can be affecting or disorienting, and belongs somewhere between Coupland and literary chroniclers of depression like Lydia Davis. Martin's first novel is finally neither a triumph nor a disaster: it's yet another of this intelligent performer's attempts to expand his range, and those who will buy it for the name on the cover could do a lot worse.
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