Shannon's Reviews > Shopgirl

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
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Feb 26, 08

bookshelves: own, festival-of-suck, books-by-celebrities
Recommended for: boring people
Read in February, 2008

OH, what an utterly FASCINATING look into the totally important and equally fascinating stereotypes regarding heterosexual sexual relationships. Everyone in this book could have died in a fire, and I wouldn't have cared. The girl, I hate her. I refuse to believe this girl is smart, everything she does indicates that she is a complete idiot. But the reader is supposed to accept that she is smart because Steve Martin cleverly includes this in the narration by saying something like "She is smart. She reads books". WOW, NEAT. AND SUBTLE! Plus everyone in this book is really shallow and vapid and obsessed with clothes, which I think is contradictory to the claim of any of these people being intelligent at all. Am I saying that people really interested in fashion can't be intelligent? YES, PRETTY MUCH. The narration is ridiculous. BOO.

Also: this book is about a 50 year old rich white guy fucking a young hot 28 year old. And they made a movie out of it and of course, STEVE MARTIN played the 50 yr old. YOUR PLOY IS TRANSPARENT, MARTIN. I haven't seen the movie, but I actually kind of want to. If this story could ever work, I could see it working as a movie. NOT AS A BOOK, Martin isn't a good enough writer to pull it off.
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Comments (showing 1-28 of 28) (28 new)

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message 1: by Mick (new) - rated it 1 star

Mick i don't know you, but i love this review. thank you.


message 2: by Tortla (new)

Tortla I saw "Everyone in this book could have died in a fire, and I..." and read "Everyone in this book should have died in a fire, and I would have liked to watch." Excellent review, anyway.


Shannon Thank you Mick. It's a shitty book, eh?

The Tort: I like your reading way better. I may change it.


Lauren Thank you, I agree.


message 5: by Helen (new)

Helen I haven't read the book, but the movie was on tv one Sunday afternoon(I had it on in the background while doing chores around the house). From your description it was pretty much the same. Your review of the book conveys my feelings regarding the movie!


Elizabeth I quite like the bite in your review. I felt the same way about the book.
I watched the movie first, though, and I'll say this - it seems as though the director took this bit of vulgar tripe and somehow turned it into something moderately deep, meaningful, and kind of beautiful.
I think you'd like the characters much better in the movie because they were more fleshed out (especially Jeremy), like real people, and the acting was wonderfully subtle. I didn't care as much for the movie the first time I watched it, several years ago, but watching it again recently, I loved it.

I thought the book was more or less garbage, but it apparently paved the way for a really good movie.
I say give it a try; even though apparently Steve Martin also wrote the screenplay, the director clearly took some matters into his own hands and it was nowhere near as about male fantasy/dirty old men/shallow dumb people as the book. :)


Evan I guess I'll have to embrace my boring personhood on this one because I liked it. Your review is funny but I think you missed the point of the book; and maybe project a bit much about the author's motives. I doubt highly that Steve Martin, who would have access to all the sex in the world at any given moment, would have to construct an elaborate ruse via a book and screenplay to snag himself a young lover. I'm also pretty sure he has more experience and insight into sexual and heterosexual relationships than most of the people in any Goodreads clique combined.


Shannon "I doubt highly that Steve Martin, who would have access to all the sex in the world at any given moment, would have to construct an elaborate ruse via a book and screenplay to snag himself a young lover."

....seriously? You thought I meant that literally? I was obviously being facetious.

I guess we have different ideas of sex symbols, if you think Martin can get all the ass he wants at any given moment. It's STEVE MARTIN. Not Johnny Depp. Also not sure what makes you feel he is an expert on relationships (again: Steve Martin, comedian). But whatever.

I don't like the book, so I bullshitted about the authors motives in an attempt to express the fact that I found the book trite, badly written, and boring. I did not miss the "point". Hella condescending, man.


message 9: by Evan (last edited May 17, 2010 11:03AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Evan Expert in the sense that he has had more opportunity than the rest of us. And the guy is without question more intelligent than most celebrities. Your own attraction to/preference for Depp over Martin may be the more common, but it is not, by any means, the only desire out there. I've talked to a lot of younger women who prefer older men both as lovers and as sex symbols. As for Depp; sure. I'd vouchsafe that any poll of both men and women would place him at the top of the charts as a sex symbol. I mean, I'm heterosexual and I'd fuck him. So what does this prove?

I don't think I was condescending. I was just offering a different opinion. And I thought the book was better written than you thought it was. I would have been proud to have written it. Vive la difference! In any case, it ain't something to get pissed about; my response had no angry or malicious intent. I did preface by saying I thought your review was funny, so I *got* the facetiousness. However, you also wrote a critical review, and in that review are points that are open to challenge/refutation/examination.

We debate books, the merits and demerits of same; it's part of what we do here on the lively marketplace of ideas here at Goodreads.


Shannon You are correct in that I may be overlooking some of Martin's talent and perhaps genuine insight into humanity. I'm sure he has some. I still feel (personally) that the book was badly written (all telling no showing was the main issue, for me). Any slight I make against his character is meant lightheartedly..

I was not mad or even irritated with your response, I'm sorry if I came across that way. Perhaps because you said I missed the point.. it's a pet peeve of mine to be told that, especially if I feel that is not the case. (I think it dates back to a horrible professor I had in college who just told me I didn't get it every time I disagreed with some kind of essay she had us read and respond to. I'm like "I disagree" and she's like "no, you don't, you just don't get it". I was like OH HELL NO YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT I WILL END YOU).

And by the way, re: "lively marketplace of ideas". What an awesome expression. you make goodreads sound so fancyyy.


message 11: by Evan (last edited May 17, 2010 06:48PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Evan Well, of course, "the point" is a Pandora's Box. It can differ according to each person's perspective, in many cases.
I fear that I may have underestimated you, and I'll try not to do it again. You're pretty cool. It's been a depressing day for me, so your response helps me feel better. Thanks for the story about your professor. Funny shit.


Garbo It is ironic that you don't GET IT considering your mastery of capital sarcasm.

"She is smart. She reads books".


Shannon i don't get what you think i don't get. please elaborate in a more serious and clear manner. i am not a sarcastic person. you must have me confused with someone else. it's okay, happens all the time.


Garbo Steve Martin is the sarcastic person.


Shannon alright, steve martin fan-army. steve martin is a genius and i clearly misjudged him, he's like victor fucking hugo.


Garbo Is that a gay joke?


Shannon lol


Michael Bacon I too love your review. Total agreement. Garbo was saying that Steve Martin was being sarcastic about her being smart due to her book-reading habit. However, I think Steve Martin was just being "witty" and was making fun of the idea that book-reading makes a person smart while still claiming that she was smart. In other words, any sarcasm in the expression is sarcasm about the idea itself - he still seemed to want to convey that she was smart.

This is more obvious when you hear Steve Martin read it aloud, as I did, in the audiobook version.

Summary: Mirabelle Buttersfield is a silly girl but not as silly as Steve Martin for saying she's not silly.


Shannon Good point Michael! I still think everyone is giving Martin too much credit for this sarcasm/not sarcasm/self-aware sarcasm/whatever. I think he is clever... in a comedy-man way. I don't think he is a good fiction author. In my opinion. If he was not Steve Martin, famous dude, I don't think anyone would be eager to publish this book.


Michael Bacon Yep!


Amanda I think you missed a good deal of the subtext.


Shannon I think you are giving the subtext too much credit.


Michael Bacon Agreed. You can read into a text more than is actually there, and make it something better than it is. (Which is a wonderful aspect of the human psyche, so I'm glad you enjoyed the book, Amanda.)


Janice Don't give up on Martin yet- I really liked The Pleasure of My Company much more than Shopgirl.


message 25: by Patrick (new)

Patrick I loved this review but it makes me want to read the book even more. I guess I have to see if it really sucks for myself. And it's Steve Martin, no matter how pretentious he seems to be as a writer.


Carlyn Blount I agree with Evan before he started backtracking out of politeness. You seem unwilling to see these characters as anything but their stereotypes, whereas Martin has shown us a peek into the souls and insecurities that have formed them, making them so much more than that. Because you dislike what the characters represent, you discount them altogether. Your prejudice--as shown in your unwillingness to accept fashion-conscious people as intelligent--does not allow you to see deeper. So while I don't mean this to be condescending or inflammatory, I do think you rather missed the point. Which is understandable, as i think this book may only particularly resonate to certain people who have had certain life (and especially romantic) experiences; or, at least, people who are particularly open to the idea that those with different experiences than their own are not by nature interior .
Moreover, Steve Martin's anything but pretentious, Patrick. He keeps his voice very simple, actually--as mocked in the example of "She's smart. She reads books." etc--and that's part of what I loved about it. The simplicity allows a vulnerable honesty I very much appreciated. In that way, I do not believe the movie will be as good, because his voice was so much of what iliked about it, but I look forward to seeing it, nonetheless.
That being said, the book was by no means perfect. Jeremy's transition into her Mr. Right at the end didn't quite do it for me. It seemed a bit forced. He still seemed like a phony. But it was still a great read.


Shannon Simplicity does not automatically equal vulnerable honesty, and definitely not in this story. Martin presented flat, stereotyped characters. Many readers seem to project more onto the characters, but it isn't actually the narration and storytelling's credit.

Also, being "simple" in tone does not mean something can't also be pretentious drivel.

I thought it was very bad. You didn't think so. Okay. Obviously a lot of people's perception of books has to do with their taste, and I'm fine with people enjoying this, or enjoying anything I don't enjoy. Buuuut, nothing about this book is "great" by any stretch of the imagination. That is absolutely a misuse of the word "great". There are many great books and things in the world. This doesn't qualify.


message 28: by Michael (last edited Sep 11, 2013 05:40PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Michael Bacon An addition: pretentiousness is equally tied to complexity and simplicity. There is no direct relation.

In the case of Shopgirl, it is pretentious because it acts as if the simplicity will lead to something meaningful, but it does not. Peanuts (the comic strip) was able to use simplicity to talk about big issues, but Shopgirl uses simplicity to remove the meaning from the big issues, while wishing it were making an insightful point about them instead.

EDIT: Wow, this review was written in 2008 and we're still discussing? Goodreads is a funny place. (I like that things tend to go this way.)


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