The Savage Girl by P-HarpercollinsPubl

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E-book exclusive special feature: This PerfectBound e-book contains “Virtualism,” an essay on consumerism in a wired time – written especially by the author to help to encourage you to buy this e-book.Ursula Van Urden arrives in the volcano-shadowed metropolis of Middle City in the wake of her sister Ivy's widely publicized suicide attempt. In an effort to understand the events leading up to her sister's breakdown, Ursula meets with Ivy's mysterious boyfriend Chas Lacouture, the owner of the powerful trendspotting firm Tomorrow, Ltd. Before she knows why or how, Ursula is working for Chas and is given the mandate to "find the future". Thus begins Ursula's odyessy into a world where she learns that at the core of every successful product lies a paradox, how surfaces can replace experience, and that schizophrenia is a metaphor for consumer culture. But as she delves deeper into the world of trendspotting (and as her institutionalized sister's fantasies grow stranger and more apocalyptic), Ursula struggles to understand why she is inexplicably drawn to a filthy, rodent-eating homeless girl living in nearby Bannister Park.

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									The Savage Girl
Author: Alex Shakar
Description

E-book exclusive special feature: This PerfectBound e-book contains “Virtualism,” an essay on
consumerism in a wired time – written especially by the author to help to encourage you to buy this e-
book.



Ursula Van Urden arrives in the volcano-shadowed metropolis of Middle City in the wake of her sister Ivy's
widely publicized suicide attempt. In an effort to understand the events leading up to her sister's
breakdown, Ursula meets with Ivy's mysterious boyfriend Chas Lacouture, the owner of the powerful
trendspotting firm Tomorrow, Ltd. Before she knows why or how, Ursula is working for Chas and is given
the mandate to "find the future". Thus begins Ursula's odyessy into a world where she learns that at the
core of every successful product lies a paradox, how surfaces can replace experience, and that
schizophrenia is a metaphor for consumer culture. But as she delves deeper into the world of
trendspotting (and as her institutionalized sister's fantasies grow stranger and more apocalyptic), Ursula
struggles to understand why she is inexplicably drawn to a filthy, rodent-eating homeless girl living in
nearby Bannister Park.
Excerpt

The savage girl kneels on the paving stones of Banister Park, stitching together strips of brown and gray
pelt with elliptical motions of her bare arm.
The sleeves and sides of her olive-drab T-shirt are cut out, exposing her flanks and opposed semicircles
of sunburned back, like the cauterized stumps of wings. A true redskin, more so than any Indian ever
was, her skin more red than brown. It must have been pale once. And her Mohican is whitish blond, her
eyes blue or possibly green.
Her pants are from some defunct Eastern European army, laden with pockets, cut off at the knees. Her
shins are wrapped in bands of pelt, a short brown fur. Her feet are shod in moccasins.
There is a metal barb about the size of a crochet needle stuck through her earlobe, and a length of
slender chain hangs from her scalp, affixed in four places to isolated lockets of hair.
Each time the girl bends forward to make a stitch, her tattered shirt drapes and reveals her breasts, full
and pendulous, whereas the rest of her is lean and unyielding. Down the bench, the man with the greased
hair and mustache and forty-ounce beer, and his friend, the man with the Afro and mustache and forty-
ounce beer, watch the ebb and flow of her flesh with sleepy smiles, lulled by the savage girl's mysterious,
eye-of-the-hurricane calm, while around her the rest of the park gyres and caterwauls with trick bikers,
hat dancers, oil-can drummers, chinchillas, rats, drunks, kendo fighters, shadowboxers, soccer players,
a couple of cardsharpers, and, of course, one trendspotter, Ursula Van Urden, who has been circling the
savage girl all morning, moving from bench to bench to get a better view, trying to work up the nerve to
speak to her but unable to rid herself of the ridiculous idea that the girl simply won't understand, that she
communicates only by means of whistles, clicks of the tongue, or tattoos stamped out on the
cobblestones, and that even this rudimentary language she reserves solely for communing with the spirits
that toss in the rising steam of hot-dog and pretzel carts.
Author Bio
Alex Shakar
Alex Shakar graduated from Yale in 1990, was a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin and
is now pursuing a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His first
collection, CITY IN LOVE won the 1996 National Fiction Competition and was published by FC2 (The
Fiction Collective). The book was the Independent Presses Editor’s “Pick of the Year.”
Reviews

"An exceptionally smart and likable first novel that tries valiantly to ransom Beauty from its commercial
captors."



"Alex Shakar’s prose meets the severest demands of twentieth-century modernism. . . .What thrills me
beyond the pleasure of his magical metamorphosis of contemporary reality is that so young a writer
should so seriously be creating a language charged with what Nabokov called ‘the aesthetic vibrancy of
authentic literature."



"Shakar’s clever and provocative debut novel is something of a genre bender ... Into this comic-book-
setting, full of vividly drawn, outsized characters, Shakar drops a perfectly normal heroine, Ursula Van
Urden ... What’s best about this entertaining novel is the feast of ideas. Has too much irony been emitted
into the earth’s atmosphere? Is glamour a zero-sum game? Is there a paradoxical essence at the heart of
every product? Who knows. But Shakar makes it fun to contemplate ... The ultra-gloss anxieties of young
urbanites are on fetching display in this clever debut."

								
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