you can’t judge a book by it’s cover

you know that saying? ok, well...maybe at one time that could’ve been true.

middle ages? all books looked the same, also they were written by monks, so no one was much interested, especially because very few people could actually read at the time.

shakespearean times, much the same; gold lettering on leather cover, big deal.

but in this, the dawn of the marketing age (hey, did i just coin that?) it is oh so very very important to make a book look just right. and sometimes, to even make it look so fabulous that one hardly cares what exactly is inside because -- wow, have you seen how great it LOOKS?

but i must admit i am quite skilled at actually judging a book by it’s cover, or dustjacket, and when i first saw Steve Martin’s new novella, Shopgirl, i knew the story would be as sweet (in the old-fashioned sense of that word) and darling on the inside as it looked on the outside.

Shopgirl is the simple story of Mirabelle, an artist biding her days standing at the glove counter at Neiman Marcus in L.A. and silently sketching away her nights at home in her small apartment. Mirabelle is stylish and subtle and secretly troubled, by things that most times she would be unable to explain or even name. she lives her life day by day wondering if and when things will be different and how and what she will have to do to make it be different. she goes on dates, she meets a boy named Jeremy at the laundromat. alas, he is just a boy, and although Mirabelle knows this in her heart, her loneliness leads her to make a “...devil’s bargain” and sleep with Jeremy. But after this, after barely three dates and one desperate attempt at some comfort on Mirabelle’s part, their brief relationship will go on a long hiatus.

this is where we meet Ray Porter, who sweeps Mirabelle up into a different world of living. here, there is all the passion and misunderstanding of two people falling in love but not quite ready to share their lives. Ray is rich. Rich enough to for romantic gestures such as spotting a beautiful and unusual girl at the glove counter at Neiman Marcus and buying some time with her by purchasing an expensive pair of gloves from the girl and then tracking the girl’s address and sending her the gloves she thought she was picking out for someone else...

this is the beginning of their complicated and heartrending love affair. i can’t go on with the ending because you should read Steve Martin’s words, he tells the story with empathy and beauty that touched me and made me love this gem of a novella.

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