The interplay of truth and fiction, and my enjoyment of such matters, led me to buy Ron Currie Jr.’s novel Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles.
I am glad that I did.
The novel combines life and death, and longing, in a story that took me a month to read. This was my choice. The author’s episodic style, with most of the pieces bite-size, allows for a quick or slow read.
Four main plot strains vie for our attention –
- A story of obsessive love.
- How the narrator’s father died.
- The narrator’s own death and return.
- Speculation on the Singularity.
Currie’s love story examines the way a person can grab and hold you with a grip that cannot be broken, or a grip that you do not wish to break. Currie, which is the name of the author and of the narrator, has such bond with a woman named Emma. She sound worthy of such attention, based on his description of her, but the truth is that obsessions do not admit of reason or persuasion. Your Emma, my Emma,, and his Emma will be three strangers to one another.
The story of how his father died offers a variation on the theme of obsessive love, by bringing in family, obligation, and friendship.
I guess it amounts to a spoiler, so be warned, but Currie et al attempts suicide and proves to be a failure at this. He lives to change his name and place, leaving everyone to believe that he is dead. Plots strains No. One and No. Two and No. Three have a lot to do with this development.
Taking its turn with the other three plot aspects is Currie’s amusing, absurd, and insightful meditations on the Singularity, which he points out is like the resurrection of Christian dogma but without the precondition of belief.
The bookends of the book establish and develop the theme of the nature of fiction and its relationship to truth, and in particular the relationship of writer and reader from the angle of truth.
I took a month to read this book for a few reasons that do not have much connection. It was in the spring, when my mind turns from books to outdoor pursuits, so the three hours that I usually devote daily to reading, in winter, becomes more like an hour or less in the warmer months.
That is one reason.
The other reason for my slow pace of reading has to do with the intensity of the story. I wanted to pace myself emotionally. Currie’s short takes on the story allowed me to do this without any lapses of attention or memory.
The is one hell of a book. Itself a flimsy little miracle.