Shop Girl by Steve Martin
By Zara Alexis D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis
Author: Steve Martin
Format: Hardcover, 144 pages
Pub Date: October 11, 2000
I picked this up as a “quickie” on my way out of the public library. It was on a shelf right beside the checkout counter. Who has time for 1500 pages when your child is sick, chores need to be done, and work sucks seven and a half hours out of your day, every single day? I opted for the short novella.
It wasn’t tough to get through, but it was tough to independently imagine, considering I had already watched the movie, and inadvertently kept seeing Steve Martin and Claire Danes as the main characters. It’s never great to see a movie before reading the actual book.
I aspired to be impressed by the idea that an actor could also indeed write. Unfortunately, my expectations were a little too high. I have nothing against Steve Martin and I admire his attempt at putting words to paper, even concocting a storyline of love. So, for that, congratulations are in order.
But, where the characters had potential at being interesting, the narrative unfortunately “told” me what I should have been left to infer on my own. Though Martin kept proclaiming the female protagonist’s complexity, I thought she was too dim-witted by allowing herself to continuously be undervalued by a man. Nice one.
And I lost patience with the immaturity and self-absorption of the male character. Carry a mirror around much? Where I had hoped for an evolution in their relationship, its inevitable bust was neither disappointing, nor surprising.
I suspect a grander meaning could have “blown me away” by remaining as a hidden context in the work. I guess. But you’d have to read really hard to get to the point about loneliness, desperation, the intermingling of two strangers trying on love, and somehow in their resistance to self-awareness and the risk of a substantial relationship, they could do nothing better, but realize their loss—and of course, only too late. Okay. But, that’s been done before. And I really didn’t have to dig deep. I made that up on my own to give more girth to the book.
In fairness though, I knew it was going to be a quickie. It did say: novella. And it sure was. When shopping for this book, better to go watch the movie at the theatre or on DVD. My suggestion: pass “Shop Girl” by.
No offence Steve Martin, you’re still a great actor. But, you can leave the writing to the other guys.
Have you ever been in a serious relationship with someone that you met at the mall?
(It’s okay…you can admit it…I have!)