What does “But were Oedipa some single melted crystal of urban horse” mean?

Here is the full quote:

What the road really was, she fancied, was this hypodermic needle, inserted somewhere ahead into the vein of a freeway, a vein nourishing the mainliner L.A., keeping it happy, coherent, protected from pain, or whatever passes, with a city, for pain. But were Oedipa some single melted crystal of urban horse, L.A., really, would be no less turned on for her absence.

  • It may help to know that "horse" is a slang term for heroin.
    – user14111
    Feb 9, 2020 at 12:03
  • 1
    The sentence now makes sense, actually. Because it fits in nicely with the image of the road being a hypodermic needle. Thanks.
    – AAZ
    Feb 9, 2020 at 12:21

1 Answer 1


As per the comments, and so that we have an answer present, "horse" is a slang term for heroin, so the simile being used is comparing the road to a hypodermic needle, and Oedipa as a dose of a drug, but one which would not be missed if not present.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.