Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr.
The book in one sentence: A writer simply lives his life, and with a faked death, finds fame and fortune.
Synopsis: In this tour de force of imagination, Ron Currie asks why literal veracity means more to us than deeper truths, creating yet again a genre-bending novel that will at once dazzle, move, and provoke. The protagonist of Ron Currie, Jr.’s new novel has a problem—or rather, several of them. He’s a writer whose latest book was destroyed in a fire. He’s mourning the death of his father, and has been in love with the same woman since grade school, a woman whose beauty and allure is matched only by her talent for eluding him. Worst of all, he’s not even his own man, but rather an amalgam of fact and fiction from Ron Currie’s own life.
When Currie the character exiles himself to a small Caribbean island to write a new book about the woman he loves, he eventually decides to fake his death, which turns out to be the best career move he’s ever made. But fame and fortune come with a price, and Currie learns that in a time of twenty-four-hour news cycles, reality TV, and celebrity Twitter feeds, the one thing the world will not forgive is having been told a deeply satisfying lie.
What kind of distinction could, or should, be drawn between Currie the author and Currie the character? Or between the book you hold in your hands and the novel embedded in it? Whatever the answers, Currie, an inventive writer always eager to test the boundaries of storytelling in provocative ways, has essential things to impart along the way about heartbreak, reality, grief, deceit, human frailty, and blinding love.
My two centsI loved this book because it is honest, raw, and self-deprecating. The book format being rather unorthodox likewise lent to the experience of reading this book -- it just spewed ideas and feelings about love and death with such a frightening honesty that I felt uncomfortable, even a tad embarrassed. I hate feeling like I walked in on someone's secrets, but in this book I walked in on Currie's life.
The storyline is quite strange. A writer is simply carrying on, living his humdrum life punctuated with a lot of boozing and drunkenness, in which figures a woman he loves (not without its complications), his dying father (even more complicated and highly emotional) and a second novel that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. One day, he finds out that people thinks he's killed himself; he takes the opportunity to simply disappear from his life -- complete with emotional good-byes in a suicide note -- because he finds his life meaningless as it is.
This is an unconventional book, without chapters, with each stream of thought - like short bursts of conversation with someone - spanning less than a page to a few. However, there were three main "streams of consciousness" that held the book together and prevented it from becoming directionless:
- Love: wherein Ron waxes poetic about the true love of his life, Emma, complete with all the gruesome, painful, and the beautiful details of what it is to love and to be loved. Replete with some rather graphic sex scenes.
- Death: I fell for this ... hard. Currie recounts how he sees his father slowly die, with flashbacks to his own youth and the realizations about his father's humanity. Reading his account highlights the realities and challenges of parent-child relationships. These accounts were not only emotional and tender, but they also rang with so much truth it actually brought tears to my eyes.
- The Singularity - Currie's fascination and musings about man and artificial intelligence. Fascinating yes, but the details may be a bit much for some; there were times that I skimmed these musings.
Verdict: An honest and unorthodox musing on love, death and life. Highly recommended.
I won an Advance Reader Copy through Goodreads First Reads