*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.]