The Savage Girl (novel)

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The Savage Girl
Author Alex Shakar
Country United States
Language English
Genre Fiction
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
September 18, 2001
Pages 288
ISBN 0-06-620987-0

The Savage Girl is the first novel by American novelist Alex Shakar, released in 2001.

Plot summary[edit]

Burnt-out art student Ursula Van Urden arrives to Middle City, a fictional American metropolis built around a volcano, to care for her younger sister Ivy, a fashion model who has recently suffered a much-publicized schizophrenic meltdown. Ursula soon begins working for Ivy’s former boyfriend, Chas Lacouture, owner of the trendspotting firm Tomorrow, Ltd. She is trained as a trendspotter by both Chas and her coworker, Javier Delreal.

A manic optimist, Javier takes her on rollerblading and party-crashing expeditions, predicting a new megatrend he calls the "Light Age," a "renaissance of self-creation," which he believes will coincide with the defeat of irony. By contrast, Chas, a cynical ex-philosophy professor, takes her to skulk in supermarkets and spy on customers, and introduces her to the concept of "paradessence," (Shakar’s invention), the "broken soul" at the center of every product, consisting of two opposing desires that it will promise to satisfy simultaneously: "‘The paradessence of coffee is stimulation and relaxation. Every successful ad campaign for coffee will promise both of those mutually exclusive states."

As Ivy, still arguably insane, resumes her modeling activities, Ursula's own trendspotting work comes to focus on a homeless girl who lives in a city park, makes her own clothing, and hunts pigeons for food. This eponymous “savage girl” forms the basis of a marketing campaign for a new product, "Diet Water," and serves as a harbinger, for Chas and Javier alike, of the new age to come. This age, of "postirony" (another of Shakar’s terms) is not so much unironic as darkly schizophrenic. The story builds to revelations both comic and tragic.


  • Ursula Van Urden – Protagonist
  • Ivy Van Urden – Ursula’s younger sister, a schizophrenic fashion model
  • Chas Lacouture – Ursula’s boss, a trendspotter
  • Javier Delreal – Ursula’s coworker, a trendspotter
  • The Savage Girl – a homeless girl, the basis for Ursula’s marketing campaign
  • Gwennan – Ursula’s and Ivy’s mother, a retired plastic surgeon
  • James T. Couch – Ursula’s coworker, über-ironist and trendspotter
  • Ed Cabaj – head of marketing for General Foods’ New Beverage division
  • Camille Stypnick – art director for the ad agency Mitchell and Chennault
  • Eeven – an inner-city boy for whom Javier becomes a Big Brother


  1. Alex Shakar, The Savage Girl, p. 24
  2. Alex Shakar, The Savage Girl, p. 60

Release details[edit]

External links[edit]