“Exquisite Mariposa: A Novel” by Fiona Alison Duncan— Self-discovery

Duncan, Fiona Alison. “Exquisite Mariposa: A Novel” , Soft Skull Press, 2019.


Amos Lassen

Fiona Duncan’s coming of age story is a meditation on materialism, media, power, performance, and sexuality uses inventive, of-the-moment language to tackle that circuitous route to self-discovery in the age of Trump.

Duncan has always been curious about the trends around her. After years of searching for answers in books and astrological charts and working as a celebrity journalist to make rent, she discovers another way of existing: “in the Real, a phenomenological state few humans live in.”

Her journey to this took her to Koreatown, Los Angeles, where she sublets a room in La Mariposa. There she asks if she can rewrite her life and this is her answer to that question. In the novel she and her friends  look at questions of “art making and economies, breakups and breakdowns, and the Internet and its many obsessions.”

This is actually a meditation of “semi-private thoughts about sex, relationships, trauma, healing practices, god, magic, psychic powers, friendship, self-fulfillment, self-betrayal, gender, sexuality, writing, class divide, money, media, fashion, art, mental illness and divine love” and there are all moving parts of Duncan’s world.

She seems to be find people when they need to be found and at a time where people want to connect though community, and fight isolating themselves in a world where individuality is highly prized and sought. People work and pray to remove expectation around the ideal life to live.

The plot is thin and filled with the New Age something I have never understood or even bothered to try to understand. Because of that the novel did not really speak to me even with its lovely prose.

This is a look at a generation that was “ born on the boundary of bastard boomer billionaires and the repeated failure of the sexual revolution.” The book questions what is real.
The storyline is of several women sharing an apartment called the Mariposa in Los Angeles and they also share stories of friendship, self-discovery, relationships, branding, public relations, a proposed reality television show about her friends, dildos and survival. We see the importance of community. We reconsider God in light of what we read here and how it feels to be alive today.

Leave a Reply