The Savage Girl (novel)
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|September 18, 2001|
The Savage Girl is the first novel by American novelist Alex Shakar, released in 2001.
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
- Alex Shakar, The Savage Girl, p. 24
- Alex Shakar, The Savage Girl, p. 60
- 2001, USA, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-620987-0, hardcover
- 2001, UK, Scribner, ISBN 0-7432-0724-6
- 2002, USA, HarperPerennial, ISBN 0-06-093523-5, paperback
- 2002, France (“Look Sauvage,” trans. Daniel Lemoine), Au Diable Vauvert, ISBN 2-84626-047-8
- 2002, Germany (“Der Letzte Schrei,” trans. Johannes Sabinski), Rowohlt, ISBN 3-499-23175-1
- 2003, Japan (trans. Masako Sasada), Artist House Publishers, ISBN 4-04-898129-3
- 2003, Poland (“Dzikuska,” trans. Dorota Stadnik), MUZA SA, ISBN 83-7319-339-1
- 2005, Italy (“La Selvaggia,” trans. Elisa Villa), Fanucci Editore, ISBN 978-88-347-0965-8
- Thailand, Siam Inter Books, ISBN 974-9950-70-4
- The Savage Girl page on author website
- Janet Maslin, “A City’s Pledge of Allegiance: Shop Till You Drop,” The New York Times, Sep. 20, 2001, https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DE5DC133BF933A1575AC0A9679C8B63&scp=1&sq=alex%20shakar&st=cse (review)
- Kirkus Reviews, Oct. 1, 2001, http://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/fiction/alex-shakar/the-savage-girl/ (review)
- Irene Lascher, “‘Savage’ Satire Blurs Lines of Popular Culture,” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 14, 2001, http://articles.latimes.com/2001/dec/14/news/lv-shakar14, (feature)
- Martha Bayne, “Irony in the Crosshairs,” Chicago Reader, Oct. 4, 2001, http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/irony-in-the-crosshairs/Content?oid=906629 (feature)