Tristessa depicts two visits made to Mexico City in 1955 and 1956 by the first-person narrator, Jack Duluoz. He stays with a friend, Bull Gaines (an addict), and becomes involved with Tristessa (a prostitute and Bull’s morphine supplier). Duluoz becomes sexually attracted to Tristessa, and the book explores the way that Duluoz finds it difficult to confront the integuments of this desire. A frustrated Duluoz hangs around his two addict-acquaintances, watching them score, shoot-up, and lie around as their condition declines. Finally he leaves, but Tristessa plays on his mind. He returns to Mexico City, only to find that Tristessa has deteriorated markedly.

Duluoz first encounters Tristessa in Mexico City as a …

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Ellis, R. J.. "Tristessa". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 April 2007
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]