Review: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr. & Giveaway

5th March 2013

Via Goodreads

Via Goodreads

*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.

Add this to your Goodreads shelf.

Viking Books has generously offered a copy to one of The Picky Girl’s readers. Leave a comment below by March 11, 2013 at midnight CST, and I’ll draw a winner at random by Tuesday, March 12! [Restricted to U.S. residents.]

  • Nicely reviewed – a great explanation of the Singularity parts as well. This is my favorite of the year so far – really loved it for many of the same reasons you did.

    • Thanks, Greg. I actually just added my review to GR and saw your own. It was a completely unexpected reading experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • I haven’t heard of this one which seems impossible with that awesome title! I hope I win! Pick me!

    • Isn’t it a great title? I heard it referred to no-smoking patches (I think from Greg of New Dork Review), but I couldn’t swear to it. They certainly don’t seem to have a place within the book, but it is mentioned at one point.

  • This sounds like an intriguing read. I like the passages you picked too- they definitely make me want to read more!

    • Awesome, Jenna! I don’t include passages all the time, but when they’re good, they’re good.

  • Great review. Everyone that I know has loved this book, so put my name in the proverbial hat, please!

    • Thanks, Heather! I was worried when I first opened it because many of the pages only have a paragraph on them, and I thought: oh no.

      But it was actually really great.

  • Charlie

    If the author’s name is the character’s, is this non-fiction somewhat? I like the style of the writing and details, it sounds like a lot of food for thought.

    • It’s postmodern – which I hesitate to add because I know, for me, postmodernism very often equals a big hot mess of a book.

      It’s definitely purposeful and definitely adds another layer to the book in terms of analysis.

  • I’ve had my eye on this one! Thanks for the chance to win a copy ๐Ÿ™‚

    • You’re welcome! It’s a good one.

  • I’d love the opportunity to win this book! I entered another giveaway for it, but didn’t win! Thanks for the offer!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kenneth Hursh

    Hi, picky. I, too, liked the poeticism, or to me, philosophizing, about love, death, and the ‘singularity.’ I have to say Currie lost me a little with the fake death/posthumous fame twist–took me out of the relationship between him and Emma. I liked Charlotte the best and was disappointed she got written out. The way he broke up the story in short pieces kept me turning pages, though.