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Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2013
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Ever-imaginative Currie (Everything Matters!, 2009) forges a fictionalized persona of himself as a womanizer and self-acclaimed famous author. Suicidal yet determined to set the record straight about his murky past, Ron vows to only speak the capital-T Truth. After his lover (and childhood sweetheart), Emma, exiles him to a remote Caribbean island while she settles her messy divorce, he presumably begins rewriting a novel he lost in a fire, a book that should increase his fame, especially after he decides to fake his own death. But as Emma’s divorce drags on, island-bound Ron indulges in the local custom of drinking from morning to night while mourning his father’s recent death and grappling with his inability to curb his lustful nature and his mounting loneliness. Despite the antihero’s wretchedness, or perhaps because of it, his tale resounds with humor and insight into love, loss, and reality, along with his paranoid visions of a future where technology supplants humankind. An astonishing feat of innovation with surprises on nearly every page, Currie’s entrancing novel marks the work of a scathingly comic virtuoso. --Jonathan Fullmer
Praise for FLIMSY LITTLE PLASTIC MIRACLES
“Sharp and sarcastic, Currie’s dramatic story keeps you tethered in place…it’s a truly genuine love story wrapped in a series of comically improbable events.” —thedailybeast.com
“A powerful, brilliant, compelling novel about love, writing, fame, fiction and shame that is emotionally effective and intellectually engaging, coming as close to anything I’ve read, to meeting David Foster Wallace’s call for fiction that makes the head beat like the heart.” —bookslut.com
“So blisteringly funny that I laughed as I hadn’t laughed in years: we’re talking demonic, unstoppable, don’t sit next to that guy howls.” —The Washington Post
“Resounds with humor and insight into love, loss, and reality…An astonishing feat of innovation with surprises on nearly every page, Currie’s entrancing novel marks the work of a scathingly comic virtuoso.” —ALA Booklist
“A postmodern love story, self-consciously playful…things get both crazy and interesting…moving and hilarious.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A metafictional tangle of debauchery and technological anxiety…Told in a bouncy, pinball style, this darkly droll novel is never boring.” —Publishers Weekly
“Currie stays true to his gutsy, thoughtful, and unconventional self in this brilliant meditation on life, death, truth, and imperfection. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is flimsy like a brick sh*thouse. Ron Currie, Jr. is a fearless and inspired writer at the top of his game. Read him.” —Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving and West of Here
“Both a brilliantly constructed inquiry into the nature of reality and a soulful ode to the free fall of obsessive love. These two spines interweave ever more tightly till they fuse into a dazzling question mark with no easy answers. This is a beautiful book.” —Kate Christensen, author of The Astral and The Great Man
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Top Customer Reviews
I won a copy of this book from a blog giveaway.
Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, however, is quite a bit more down-to-earth, in ways that don't move me as much. Everything feels smaller, yet surprisingly, less intimate.
The fun starts even before the beginning -- on the epigraph page, where Currie decries the idiotic idea of epigraphs, because too often, they "provide the the author an opportunity to be pompous. To indulge in a little high-lit posturing" -- but then includes one anyway. Even before, on the title page, Currie has included the notation "A True Story," and then given us a paragraph about how everything that follows is "based on real events," and what exactly that means. So we know this is going to be a bit unconventional. Indeed, did everything that we're about to read really happen?
Of course not -- but having that question about what is true in a novel in the back of your mind as you read, is part of the point for this book -- and becomes very important at the end.
So the story is this: A novelist named Ron Currie, Jr. (ever read Operation Shylock by Philip Roth?), is telling us his tale (in the first person), as if it were a memoir. But despite the fact the tells us it's true -- can we believe him? Do we believe him more when he says things like:"Like everybody else, I had trembled my whole life for something true"? Or might we think he doth protest too much?
Currie reunites with his high school sweetheart, Emma, a beautiful, troubled woman, who is just emerging from a failed marriage. But then, after a few months of reunited bliss, Emma again sends Currie away -- and Currie reacts by totally removing himself (because he can't trust himself to be near her, but not with her) to an unnamed, tiny Caribbean island. There, he drinks, fights with locals, and continues work on a novel about Emma.
All the while, we get Currie's (the novelist? the fictional character?) ruminations about the future event known as the Singularity, when machines will become self-aware, and then humans will cease to exist, or humans will be gods, or the Singularity is really heaven, or any of a number of other of equally good or bad things might happen. Normally, these interruptions in fiction are annoying. These are not annoying -- they're fascinating. They add texture to the story -- to Currie's (presumably, the fictional character) increasingly frazzled mind and increasing vulnerability. Additionally, Currie tells us about taking care of his father as he slowly died of cancer -- which is sad as hell, and again, adds context to Currie's own sad situation. This is not a happy book, to be clear.
Along the way, there is a buxom college girl, a suicide attempt, a best-selling novel, and ruminations on what truly is true. And it's just simply amazing. I really loved it! And I think you will too.
*This book was sent to me by the publisher, The Viking Press, in exchange for an honest review.
It's important that you understand, from the very outset, here, that everything I'm about to tell you is capital-T True. Or at least that I will not deliberately engage in any lies, of either substance or omission, in talking with you here today.
The truth is that just like Huck Finn, who also mostly tries to tell the capital-T Truth, Ron Currie (the character, that is, not the author) is on a journey. Yes, we're all on a journey, but Ron is on a journey unlike the philosophical or figurative one most of us understand is our life. First to the Caribbean and later to parts unknown, Ron is escaping part of himself and seeking another. The woman he has loved and loves now is beyond his reach. He drinks himself and fights himself into oblivion. His father has died of cancer. It's the processing of these losses that leaves him breathless while he waxes on about the Singularity, when machines will become sentient, seeming in some instances to welcome it as a way to be free of pain but in others, to stand in awe of the capability of the world we've created:
That the machines will see us as a threat requiring elimination seems unlikely to me. My guess is they'll be fairly benevolent, even indulgent toward us, as a gifted child toward a beloved, enfeebled grandfather. They will have nothing to do with our demise, at least not directly. We will die by increments, as does anything that finds itself completely bereft of purpose. We will die, slowly, of shame.
Odd though these interjections may first appear, they're actually poignant and apt as Currie slowly reveals himself to the reader. He's painfully self aware, vacillating between the Singularity to the realism of his life, particularly when it comes to his father:
Or, if you insist on a natty conclusion, how about this one: my father got sick and died and that was it. Nothing followed but silence. No insight or revelation, no evidence of anything beyond that last breath. We paid someone we did not know to transform him from a man full of love and hate and fear into three pounds of ash, which is just about as neat and tidy as it gets, if you like neat and tidy so much.
It has seemed, since then, as though he never existed.
In what is one of the most fascinating and addictive books I've read in a while, Currie conjures Ginsberg and Ralph Ellison, writing a novel that is part poetry, part bildungsroman, and all human experience. Though I hesitate to describe Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles as poetry, it is at once poetic and experimental in its reach, and it succeeds without feeling blatantly poetic or experimental. That's a roundabout way of saying you should read it and not be scared off by its quirks.