Robert's Reviews > Shopgirl

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
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's review
Feb 26, 12

bookshelves: fiction, kindle, public-library
Read from February 25 to 26, 2012, read count: 1

A few months ago I found myself inquiring at a public library about borrowing books with an eReader. It seems to me I saw a sign that prompted my query. At the time, I was told, Kindle lending wasn't available, but other formats were as this was new to them. I must have known then that a Kindle was in my future. And it was.

Twice this week I thought about checking out a book from the library for the Kindle just to try it out. Both times after a quick search, I found the library was closed. Sigh . . .

But yesterday, rather than just accepting it and moving on, I explored. Not surprisingly, I found that one can actually check these books out online. It makes sense.

It wasn't quite as straightforward as it should have been. Despite have a library card that works in all the county libraries, one needs to log on with the originating library checked for these books. Who knew? Fortunately, the card had that listed on it. Nearly 20 years ago it has been since I opened this account in a town I do not live in.

Once that was settled, it came time to learn that while there were thousands of books available in electronic format, only a fraction of that were available in Kindle format. I suspect some of the others would work, but why bother. Now narrowed down, I learned how to restrict the search to only those books where copies were available. It seems that pretty much removes any current books and any mystery/detective/thriller/suspense books. Frustrated that there wasn't anything I ever heard of available, I somehow stumbled around and came up with this novella.

Hey, Steve Martin and I are friends on Twitter, I might as well read his book. ;) It's been a long time since I read a book of his. It was '79 or '80 I recall reading Cruel Shoes. Anyhow, I figured this would suit me well.

The checkout process was rather straightforward. The book is sent to my Amazon account and then downloaded. I have read that some publishers are not thrilled with this lending idea in digital formats. I understand but also understand that this is the only reason I would have read this title. Perhaps this now prompts me to purchase another Hyperion book. Perhaps . . .

To the book . . .
Obviously written by a man as the language for the sex is stark, just like most of us use. Yes, I did say sex. I was reminded of a Friends episode where Joey found Rachel's smut novel under her pillow. This felt like that. Sure, there was the "artsy" storyline that surrounded it, but in the end it was a sex book.

Two lost souls, one seeking meaning at mid-life and another lost beginning her adult life meet. Martin expertly described the conditions well. Thinking he had explained himself perfectly of not seeking love, she heard how this was going to be the path to a lengthy love affair.

The tone of the book was one of those artsy films . . . that advant garde motif. We learn of Mirabelle, who sells gloves at Neiman Marcus. She is courted by 50-year old Ray Porter, who seeks her supple body. He wines her. He dines her. He beds her. Then he pays her. How she justified the gifts, plane tickets, bills paid, etc. without considering that she is prostituting herself is unknown to me.

Martin ends that the relationship morphed into a father-daughter one. Hardly.

I found it impossible to like Ray. I rooted for Mirabelle, but she seemed destined to remain rather one-dimensional in this glimpse. That glimpse was hard to become concerned with. Jet-setting in LA, shopping at Prada, and being dined among the glitterati rather bored me. I'm not impressed with the name-dropping and the dollar figures.

Admittedly I do not know the background of this book and it may be unfair to say this, but it felt as though this was the author's mid-life crisis played out on papyrus (or in my case, e-ink).

The culmination of the disappointment was the transformation of Jeremy. Merely by listening to self help books on tape while he slept he matured and became what we are suppose to accept as Mirabelle's true love. Eh.

It's a quick read and there are some good descriptive passages. It was not horribly-written, but it left me unsatisfied.
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