When comedian Steve Martin decided to become a novelist (and good on him for that) his first effort published in 2000 was called Shopgirl.

I picked up a copy and belted through it the other day. It began unfortunately with this line.

“When you work in the glove department at Neiman’s you are selling things that nobody buys anymore.”

For God’s sake! Martin’s name recognition guaranteed a best‑seller and thus a major publisher. Surely someone should have pointed out that you can’t be selling something if nobody is buying.

There are other glitches like that throughout. It’s an unpleasant work reflecting a rather nasty view of humanity, so I’m certainly not recommending it.




Hmm. One wonders what Bob Jones’ inexorable and exacting eye for imprecision and inaccuracy would make of, “It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a good fortune must be in need of a wife” (“Universally acknowledged”?! But just one feminist dissenter makes a liar of the presumptuous Ms Austen!)

…much less, “It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen”. 😂

As before, Bob, keep up the amusing work but as you haven’t publicly clobbered anyone since Rod Vaughan, I’m calling “false advertising” on “no punches pulled”. 😳

There was a good South Bank Show (a UK arts programme) episode about thirty years ago that focused on Martin. An interesting guy with an arts degree majoring in philosophy,

For Martin the thing he took away from his formal studies that was not so much reciting which great thinker such as a Satre or Camus said what and when, but the practical approach of existentialism. For Martin the moment is the moment, and you do whatever takes your fancy. As a result his comedy, while being hit-and-miss and sometimes lacking in substance, is very effective when it hits the spot. For example, he basically ad-libbed when he was playing the hilariously funny part of the in-bred aristocrat Ruprecht in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Never read books written by actors Bob – you should know this!

“When you work in the glove department at Neiman’s you are selling things that nobody buys anymore.”

Presumably, the obvious error is meant as a joke – that the store is a relic of a bygone age.

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