I couldn’t face written pages this holiday season. But I’m back. And to get back, I started with a book that didn’t make me think. Those are the best books – the ones that make you forget you are processing words line by line, page by page, chapter by chapter, kindle by kindle. I know some would argue that the puzzles penned by wordsmiths are more challenging, and therefore more rewarding. Perhaps. But forensic reading is not my cup of tea, and in my humble opinion books aren’t about authors or prose, they are about readers and their imaginations. I like certain authors, like Barbara Kingsolver, Dennis Lehane, and Christopher Moore, not because of their words, but because of where their words take me. It might be subtle, but there is a difference. It’s just like actors who make you forget it is all just an act.
The best books take collections of symbols and invoke so much more. And sometimes, those books are about sex.
Okay, so that was my hook. I didn’t really want to read a book called Shopgirl, to be honest. But it was written by Steve Martin (yea, the funny dude from The Jerk). I know, so annoying: dude is an actor and a writer. He is probably one of those guys that doesn’t need to use deodorant and can dunk a basketball. Anyhow, despite the title and genre it infers, his book isn’t entirely about sex. Actually, there isn’t a whole lot of it and that just might be the main character’s problem. The story and the writing were just what I needed to fall back into line with the written word. Steve offered a collection of letters and spaces that told a story and made me forget that I was reading. It wasn’t overly complicated or thrilling. There was a shop and a girl. And that girl faced love with various levels of success and failure, all of which was entertaining as hell.
Bottom Line: quick read with love, loss, and a pinch of romantic and comedic relief. Recommended for a cross country flight (or if you are a fan of Navin R. Johnson and your dog is named “Shithead”).