Exquisite Mariposa: A Novel

Soft Skull: Red Rattle. Oct. 2019. 192p. ISBN 9781593765781. pap. $16.95. F
DEBUT The narrator of Canadian author Duncan’s debut, who shares her creator’s name, has recently moved to Los Angeles from New York City and taken up residence with a set of constantly changing roommates. She and her roommates, other young women, are searching for authenticity while fulfilling their artistic impulses. Fiona’s enthusiasm for communal living drives her to pitch their living situation as a possible reality TV show; Duncan even structures her novel in episodes rather than chapters. However, when Fiona realizes that she’s made a mistake, she breaks the contract and sets out to write her own novel. The result is a coming-of-age work that satisfies with Fiona’s many, often brilliant observations about relationships, art, drug use, astrology, sexuality, and capitalism. Episode 9: “Angels Flight” is a particularly well-written exposition on her attempt at “living in the Real.”
VERDICT As metafiction, this work will ultimately disappoint those seeking (if not longing for) a discernible, less self-conscious narrative, but it’s a provocative, original, and even chaotic understanding of reality and the rapid social, technological, and economic changes facing everyone, not just millennials.

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