If I’m remembering correctly, I first spotted Shopgirl while spending one glorious holiday season working at Barnes & Noble. I mean, my brain could totally be making that up just because I was surrounded by books, girls, and a shop for several hours a day, but that doesn’t sound nearly as catchy for a opening sentence does it?
So, I first spotted Shopgirl while spending one glorious holiday season at Barnes & Noble. It was a little odd because I didn’t think of Steve Martin as a writer, so I made a note to myself that it would make an interesting read at some point. Which is why I immediately went out and spent the next 20 some odd years avoiding the book.
I shouldn’t say that it was avoidance per se as we crossed paths multiple times through the years, and each time I made a sincere note in my mind to read it. Then I’d move on with whatever trivial thing in front of me that seemed terribly important at the time and promptly forget about that pesky mental note about something or other. Was I supposed to get milk at the store or read Shopgirl? Who can possibly remember all these things…
Well, I’m here to tell you that dreams really do come true and that sometimes if you stick enough mental notes to the interior of your skull, it’ll actually pay off.
The interesting thing is that the feeling I had after finishing this novella was the same as I’ve had with a couple other books, namely: this never would’ve gotten published had it not been for the cache of the person writing it. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, because it isn’t. It was a quick read with a lot of laughs and some touching moments that doesn’t adhere to many of the conventions of what normally makes a book a book.
To me, this less a book than 130 pages of someone explaining to me what a larger book was about. Which in and of itself is pretty interesting, but I bet probably wouldn’t have achieved the same stature had it been by Joe Smith or perhaps Todd Regoulinsky. Again, that’s not a slight against the work or its author. In fact, I’m glad that it was written by Steve Martin because having a knowledge of his voice and style of comedy helped me understand a lot and made the way the story was told make a lot more sense.
Maybe I’m reading into a little bit, but the book felt slightly subversive. Much in the same way that Martin has always had a different take on stand-up comedy, this book has an entirely different approach to how a story should be told. Which made it fun to read and well worth the wait.
Of course, there’s also a decent chance I’ve missed the entire point of the thing, in which case, I guess, the only thing to say is… well…