The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Shopgirl

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. This month’s starting point was suggested by me!

Shopgirl by Steve Martin

I read this book and saw the film last year – read my full review here.  It was Martin’s first novel and is the bittersweet story of Mirabelle, a sales assistant on the glove counter at a department store, and the two men who love her. My, Steve Martin can write!  The film (with Martin and the ever-excellent Claire Danes) is also brilliant. Both book and film are thoughtful and serious in tone, with some great moments of typical Martin dead-pan humour. I’d read anything by Steve Martin – which is why I’ve picked him twice, leading to:

Born Standing Up

This isn’t a novel, but a memoir – read my full review here.  Martin’s account of his stand-up career is fascinating, being effectively a master-class in developing a comedy act.  This is a totally serious memoir, not having been written for laughs at all, although naturally any life has its funny moments. Martin’s passion for self-improvement shines through  – I hope he writes some more memoirs of his film years some time.

My link this time is that of a memoir by a comedian, which leads me to:

My Shit Life So Far by Frankie Boyle

My book group decided to read skim/dissect a celebrity memoir for fun. This was back in 2010, and one of the big hits that Christmas had been comedian Frankie Boyle’s book. Read my full review here.

I thought it would be very much a ‘ladlit’ memoir with a bad taste joke on every page, and I actually read all 291 pages looking for them – they were few and far between. Instead, the whole thing was totally b-o-r-i-n-g. Frankly, Frankie’s life hadn’t been interesting enough, and I gave it a generous 3/10.

So, my link will be a book I’ve (bravely?) given a negative review to. Another is:

Dracula The Undead by Dacre Stoker (and Ian Holt)

Dacre Stoker is a descendant of Bram, and this novel is very silly indeed. Read more here. Nuff said.

It does have a vampire though, which is my link to something far better:

The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick

This was the first novel I read by Sedgwick – read my review from back in 2009 here. At the time, I’d started reading a lot of children’s and YA novels as preparation going for a school librarian job. I didn’t get the job, but Sedgwick blew me away. I’ve read quite a few of his YA novels, and now one some of his adult books, and he is one of my favourite authors ever.  His YA books are so beautifully written, they read brilliantly for adults too. You’ll find reviews of quite a few if you look for him in my categories index to your right.

The Kiss of Death has some proper vampires from Eastern European folklore in and it is set at Carnevale time in Venice.  So Venice leads me to my penultimate choice.

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato

This is Fiorato’s debut novel and is unusual in that it has a dual timeline – with one strand set in the present day.  Read my full review here:

Since this one, her books have been period pieces, including her Shakespearian backstory for Beatrice and Benedick which I loved, (see here). But back to Venice, and this novel contrasts the story of a woman coming to learn glassblowing, with that of the master glassblower on the Venetian island who had to escape from the guild in order to make Louis his mirrors for Versailles.

My final link is therefore glass, and my final book is:

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by G W Dahlquist

This doorstop of a novel was originally published in subscription installments – in ten separate volumes (see below). I couldn’t resist – and I loved this book (and the other two parts of the trilogy) hugely. Read about them here.

The books involve blue glass and mad scientists in a steampunk Victorian adventure that’s quite racy in parts!  Some superbly drawn characters and the constant danger the main trio find themselves in make for a page-turning romp that was irresistible – which was a good thing having committed to the installments scheme!



So, we’ve gone from a Shopgirl in an LA department store via comedy memoirs to vampires in Venice to arrive through a glass darkly in a city that is not quite Victorian London. We’ve had some excellent beginnings and endings and a disappointing middle!

These are my 6 degrees of separation this month – where will yours take you?

Shopgirl by Steve Martin (paperback, 164 pages) – out of print but used copies available here. (Affiliate link).

17 thoughts on “The Six Degrees of Separation Meme: Shopgirl

  1. Susan Osborne says:

    Great connections, here, Annabel. I’d forgotten all about the Dahlquist which I’m afraid I dismissed as a publishing gimmick at the time but it seems I was wrong.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It was so exciting at the time to receive the next installments. They are amongst my most treasured books.

  2. Kathryn Gossow says:

    I love Clare Danes but had not heard of this movie which I will seek out sometime when I have some spare time for movie viewing. Thanks for your Shopgirl suggestion to kick off the chain this month. I did not know Steve Martin also wrote.Good to learn something new!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      He is a superb writer. Love all his books. The movie is lovely – slightly different to the book, but works brilliantly. Danes is wonderful.

  3. Margaret @ BooksPlease says:

    I haven’t read Shopgirl and didn’t fancy it until I read your review! I haven’t read the other books in your chain either,although I have read Fiorato’s The Madonna of the Almonds, which I loved. And I do fancy The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks. I enjoy Fiorato’s books a lot – just got her new one – Crimson & Bone. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is totally bonkers in a good way!

  4. Brona says:

    I too am a huge fan of Sedgwick’s YA books – The Ghosts of Heaven is probably my favourite but Midwinterblood was pretty good too – and included more vampires!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Thanks Kate. It all came together as if designed to – and the Frankie Boyle and Dracula books were dire!

  5. kaggsysbookishramblings says:

    I do love this meme – such variety on all the blogs. And the Dahlquist book sounds absolutely fab – did it ever come out in an ordinary edition, do you know? Might have to look out for this one!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      They brought out a standard hardback and paperback – and it is the first part of a trilogy. Such good fun.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      He’s a very good writer too Kim. Highly recommended. Marina Fiorato’s books are great too – mostly historical.

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