Monday, February 4, 2013

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie Jr.

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles
by Ron Currie Jr
Rating: 3.5/5

It is beginning to look like Ron Currie Jr. may never exhaust his two favorite topics - the death of his father, and his undying love for his childhood sweetheart. Because Flimsy Little Miracles begins by semi-fictionally referencing the author's previous book, I read Everything Matters first. Though the two books are very different - Everything Matters is quasi-science fiction, and FLPM is quasi-memoir - both books centre around these two obsessions, sometimes to the point of redundancy.

If you like books about self-sabotaging anti-heroes, you will enjoy Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles. For my part, I discovered I am quite over that kind of protagonist. Witnessing a man destroy himself through alcohol, fistfights and obsession has lost its appeal for me. The protagonist seeks punishment for himself, which in turn hurts everyone in his blast radius and creates a vicious cycle.

Currie is a thought-provoking writer. This book bounces from narrative about his relationship with Emma (the object of his undying love), flashbacks to the long, slow death of his father (who was, in the protagonist's view, a "real" man that he could never live up to), and discussions on the idea of the Singularity (Google it). Currie's protagonist fixates on the Singularity as both a way to resurrect his father and to spend eternity with Emma. But he also recognizes that disembodied existence may render his love meaningless.

This is a complicated book to sum up. The ending (as well as the protagonist's relationship with Emma) brings up the idea of whether "literal veracity means more to us than deeper truths". Does it really matter if memoirs are factual? If you recall the scandal over James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, you may be familiar with this debate. Currie's protagonist finds himself in a similar situation, and halfheartedly tries to explain that veracity has no impact on meaning, and thus the value of a story remains the same whether it's fact or fiction. (An argument I completely agree with, by the way.)

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is a well-written (if somewhat scattered), thought-provoking book with plenty of feeling. Currie's protagonist is self-destructive in the extreme, and often thoroughly frustrating. Sometimes I felt all those slaps he took were well-deserved, because if he'd just manned-up, looked around, and took control of himself, things would have been better for a lot of people. He never quite learns his lesson, and remains self-indulgent, self-absorbed and self-defeating to the end.

I recieved a free Advanced Uncorrected Proof of Flimsy Little Miracles from Penguin Canada via goodreads First Reads Giveaway. This has in no way influenced my review.

See my review of Ron Currie Jr.'s Everything Matters!

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