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Exquisite Mariposa

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  252 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Given the initials F.A.D. at birth, Fiona Alison Duncan has always had an eye for observing the trends around her. But after years of trying to please others, looking for answers in books and astrological charts, and clocking endless hours as a celebrity journalist just to make rent, Fiona discovers another way of existing: in the Real, a phenomenological state few humans ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by Soft Skull Press
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Average rating 3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  252 ratings  ·  48 reviews

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book was not to my taste, she says politely.

But maybe you will appreciate the first lines of this Audible review:
"Literally had to rage quit this- the level of insufferable drivel was giving me heart palpitations. Why does this person think her basic ass narcissism is worthy of a story?"


I kept wondering, is the author being ironic? Are these people and their trauma-dramas... ironic? Sadly I don't think they are. If this is Los Angeles count me out.
Amanda Robinson
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The best novel I've read in forever. La Mariposa made me miss my old house with all its friends and strangers. These are our conversations! Totally taken by the question of whether you can ever ethically write about others. Fiona's relationship with her first boyfriend and years-later revelations made me cry. So so good. Made me reconsider God, or at least that God feeling. I've never cared about "feeling seen" when reading fiction but now that it's happened I get it. Reminded me what the Real f ...more
Soft Skull
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, fall-2019
In the aftermath of a reality TV deal gone wrong, Fiona Alison Duncan asks the question, Can you rewrite your life? The answer, her debut novel Exquisite Mariposa, follows a cast of housemates as they navigate questions of art making and economies, breakups and breakdowns, and the internet and its many obsessions.
Afton Montgomery
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Living rooms divided into bedrooms by hanging sheets; energy healers prescribing gay poetry; a man jacking off while driving a mini-van. Class consciousness as something like performance art. Kundalini. Being twenty-whatever. The Real. "I love Los Angeles... Nowhere have I felt so happy to have stereotypes confirmed." Fiona Alison Duncan's Koreatown come-as-you-are novel is the best contemporary telling of LA that I've read-- and Los Angeles is the love of my life. One cancelled reality TV show ...more
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-bitchess
Cats are evil, too, and I love them. So maybe it’s okay that I am what I am. We’re predators, daydreamers, slinky, dethroned royalty, cuddly only when we say.
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
no thoughts head empty
Cassie Rauch
trying to stay Real........ is a vibe
Jacob Wren
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A few short passages from Exquisite Mariposa:

Alicia made art the way I did when I first started: from need, love, and naivete. When the feelings are as big as the information is chaotic, you put it into physical form in order to better see it, rearrange it, and maybe change it.

Now in New York, waitressing full-time and so tired, Alicia’s pretty much stopped making work. Many of the best are striving in the shadows. Spotlight’s full of frauds.

And God leaves the room when you sell out; it just hap
Judy Hilvers
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“We can act like victims to our own inclinations, or we can make of the most of them.” And so, with the force of a REAL believer, author Fiona Alison Duncan takes us to Exquisite Mariposa, an alternate world where one can just “be”. Through her own conflicted journey, Duncan faces down the malevolent forces that surround her generation. Written with such clarity and intensity, “Exquisite Mariposa”, is a great read for those who wonder how others cope with life’s overstimulating assaults on the s ...more
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing and beautiful book. If you are interested in the internal life of a creative millenial musing on love, sex, feminism and life in LA read this.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Uniquely written and a good coming of age story. I didn’t really relate but it was a good read anyway.
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
If Eve Babtiz was a hipster Gwyneth Paltrow
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
After reading this quest to find “what’s Real” I am beginning to wonder myself. The world described in this book is completely foreign to me, and the meanderings and musings in here are just not my language. With the exception of when she is describing her friends and her admiration for them, this felt sadly empty and hollow.
lauren cardone
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel taught me so much about myself, which is usually what I'm looking for in a book. I found it through recommendation of Hari Nef (queen) and the meditations on womanhood, self discovery, and friendship were so astute and needed. The narrator Fiona was relatable in the best ways because I saw the best and worst of myself in her without being too scared or too excited about it. I hadn't thought that much about growing up into a woman before I read her gender meditations because it always ...more
Anthony Hilvers
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading the Exquisite Mariposa is like walking into a diner in Dubuque, Iowa only to discover you’ve become a guest of the Bellagio Hotel. A reoccurring storyline of several women sharing an apartment called the Mariposa in Los Angel is rich with stories of friendship, self-discovery, relationships, branding, public relations, a proposed reality television show about her friends, dildos and survival in Los Angeles. I’m propelled through the book with discussions of “don’t act like a man”, astrol ...more
Bronwyn Suosmaa
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Found solace and peace and deep, deep feeling in this meditation of semi-private thoughts about sex, relationships, trauma, healing practices, god, magic, psychic musings, friendship, self fulfillment, self betrayal, gender, sexuality, writing, class divide, money, media, fashion, art, mental illness and divine love underlining all moving parts of the author's world. Living in The Real as a real life practice.

Thank you x100 to Fiona Alison Duncan for writing this novel.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
is good book

-sent from the Real
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this without expecting to. Took me about 80 pages to trust the author. But then the spine cracked open and the Real was real.
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I never give out 5 star ratings. Only when a book moves me for some reason or other. Fiona’s writing is raw. It’s real. And it’s moving. I started reading this book a month or two before shit when down in my life. I only read up until about chapter 4 because life was too busy with me for me to have a minute of free time. Now, a day after the storm of my life has passed I picked up this book and read it in one sitting. God knows how much this book would’ve been useful to me before the shit show t ...more
Spenser Milo
Oct 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Did it all get real? I guess it's real enough
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
now that's what I like to read!
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
literally incredible
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
manifesto-like, a love letter to the Real.
i love the anti-Cusk narrative voice if you can excuse such a term. total brainworm!
Charlie Kruse
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Vibrant, messy, absolutely the most contemporary book I've ever read. Really remarkable achievement.
Steffi Tupe
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We need more lit about the times we're living in.
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
this gave me feels
Nov 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
I just can’t drink the kool-aid on this.

The writing was too scattered and read like a refurbished Lisa Frank Diary with matching gel pen.

Duncan’s strength was her conversations and interactions with friends and lovers. Once she wasn’t with them and the ramblings began, my attention fell off.
Mam Flam
May 24, 2020 rated it liked it
if I were 22, I’d love this book. very readable young adult philosophy. I’m glad it exists but I was hoping for something more graduated.

Had high hopes for this extremely contemporary memoir. It started off strong but quickly became a book about writing a book, a book about things she decided not to do. There were brief interesting mentions of friends and relationships but none of the characters became “real” to me. Stories began but branched off and dissipated before being realized in a satisfy
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Easy quick read, but random scattered thoughts any one can find in their daily journal. Two episodes were a bit better though.
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
What makes you feel Real right now?*

That's what I'm left asking myself upon finishing *Exquisite Mariposa*, a hip philosophical existential manifesto of sorts by Fiona Alison Duncan. It read like a feminist riff on Lolita and American Psycho--which sounds very weird, I know. There are several other comparisons on the back cover, but I hadn't read any of those.

There is dark brilliance to the cynicism throughout this Lambda Award nominee, such as this stunning bout of truthtelling:

The world around
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“I tend to join trends as they're cresting— I told you I was cursed with the initials F.A.D. Astrology's gone in and out of style before; right now, it's peaking in popularity, because people are desperate for a meaning system more nourishing than capitalism.” 0 likes
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