Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2006 at 2:48 pm

“Oh, no … don’t,” she corrects him: “it’s pain that changes our lives”.

The last rhyme of the song “Iris” is still floating in the air when I finish this book by Steve Martin. Some words from the book still stay afloat in my head. When the love triangle happens, the question of choosing and be chosen will be arise. Of course, at least one of the parties will not be so happy of the outcome.

Steve Martin, acclaimed actor and writer, told us the story of three people, who spin around each other by some unspeakable words, or the words that should be spoken but not. The central of this story is a girl, Mirabelle, whose life is so unfounded. With some brief flashback, the writer told us how she was betrayed by her own father, and how she became a “shopgirl” at a glove counter, “selling things that nobody buys anymore…”. Undoubtedly, that is how she looks at herself, especially when the story is moving toward the ending. The second party, Ray Porter, is a rich man who tries to seek a good love, with a lots of definition and restriction. The final party, Jeremy, tells us that, before you can find a true love, you have to accept yourself truthfully.

By describing itself as “a novella”, the book tells the story of the three parties with “realistic and satiric in tone“[1]. Steve martin doesn’t hesitate to contribute a couple pages to detail a daily life of Mirabelle, and uses only one short paragraph to describe the relationship between Marabelle and Ray in a six months period, and how the relationship was getting worse. The pace of the book is, I guess, control by the emotion of the characters, not by any absolution time frame, so sometime, the book goes very slow, so we can absorb the sadness, loneliness, or depressed of a character. On the other hand, the book can go very fast when nothing is important enough to be written down there. The author may allow the readers to use their mind to illustrate the live of each character by themselves.

To conclude, shopgirl is well written and very tasteful. Also, the story is told wisely, and the author doesn’t look down the reader by telling every detail excessively. I was very delighted while reading the book. Finally, I agree that it is not happiness but “pain that changes our lives”.


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