Author-in-Residence: Ron Currie, Jr. author of ‘Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles’

Author-in-Residence: Ron Currie, Jr. author of 'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles'

My latest read was a different type of novel, a novel that was a delicious combination of truth and falsehood, with the designation of reality versus fiction being left – in large part – to the decision of the reader. Author Ron Currie, Jr., caricatured himself into his newest novel, ‘Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles’, creating a thoughtful and beautifully written story, as well as an interesting view into the living man.

In addition to the innovative theme, formatting of this book is quite unique. To a certain extent, this novel is written as a compilation of stories and experiences in literal short bursts of remembrances. There are no real designated chapters, and the story is not linear, but rather collected. You jump from one recollection to the next, at first not seeing any specific binding tie and then slowly entering a deep submission into the characters’ lives and thus the overarching story.

I really enjoyed the story presented – even though my mind did tend to glaze over as Ron spewed about his belief of a computer-takeover he referes to as the ‘Singularity’. I enjoyed the odd formating, the non-linear story, the love story, the truthfulness, and the truly glorious use of the English language that Ron employs.

Although the book has a fairly complete and semi-satisfying ending, there is a definite openness to the story and to the overall intent of the tale. Thankfully, the author, Ron Currie Jr., took some time to answer a few of the myriad of questions that formed in my brain upon completion of this very thought-provoking tale.

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Author-in-Residence: Ron Currie, Jr. author of 'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles'
Author-in-Residence: Ron Currie, Jr.

CAROLANN: What characters in the book are based on real people and which are completely imaginary? For example, the character of fictional Ron’s father is so honestly and realistically written – being someone who also lived with a close family member dying from cancer – and I feel this experience must be based in fact. And Emma, is Emma a compilation of a multitude of loves or based on one specific woman?

RON: It’s dangerous territory to wade into. Though I certainly anticipated that people would ask these sorts of questions, my hope is that the book itself answers them–or at least offers an explanation for why I won’t.

CAROLANN: What characteristics of fictional Ron are true to realistic Ron? How much of fictional Ron is real, how much is exaggerated, and how much is just wishful thinking?

RON: I’ve been saying for a while that the character in the book is me with the volume turned up. An interesting (and possibly problematic) thing that happens when you write fiction based on real life is that, at a certain point and in certain instances, it can be difficult to recall what actually happened and what you made up. There were also times in the composition of the book when life began to imitate art in an actual and spooky kind of way.

CAROLANN: Were you inspired by James Frey’s story and the surrounding scandal of his story ‘A Million Little Pieces’? If not, where did the idea for this tale come from?

RON: “Inspired” is a strong word, but certainly I had it in mind–if you look closely at the cover, one of the book spines is of A MILLION LITTLE PIECES. That’s a flourish I’d like to take credit for, but the credit belongs to the book designer, who did an absolutely amazing job of creating a cover that is, in my mind, an intrinsic part of the book as a piece of art, rather than just sexy wrapping paper designed to get you to buy the thing. But beyond that, yeah, I did a lot of thinking about Frey and the scandal, the way in which he was crucified, and whether or not readers had right or reason to be as outraged as they were. I still haven’t decided, but it’s worth thinking about.

CAROLANN: The book formatting is very different than a standard novel structure. Did you write the book in this fashion? Was this an editing decision? How were you hoping to change the reader’s experience with this formatting?

RON: I did write it with exactly this formatting, the single-line pages, all that empty space. The idea was, among other things, to convey the fragmented nature of the narrator’s state of mind through physical presentation of the text.

CAROLANN: What does the real Ron do when he is not writing?

RON: Many of the things we all do—watch baseball, pay bills, wash the dishes.

CAROLANN: Who is your favorite author? Favorite Book? Who do you hope to one day be compared to? Currently some compare you to Kurt Vonnegut – is this a fair assessment? Accurate? Pleasing?

RON: There are way too many good books and authors to cite a favorite, but Vonnegut is one of them. I have a tattoo of the final page of SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE on my right forearm, if that gives you an idea. I think the comparisons to Vonnegut have been, in the past, somewhat apt, but I don’t think they apply so much with FLIMSY LITTLE PLASTIC MIRACLES. Then again, I’m not always the best judge of my of my own work, so maybe there is good reason to draw parallels between us again, with this book.

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Thank you so much Ron for taking the time to talk to me – I love being able to speak with an author, especially so soon after completing their novel. Below is my favorite passage from his book, as Ron describes his fictional love interest (and possibly real-life love interest?), Emma.

‘One thing you can never understand, from reading the book or seeing the movie or even me sitting here telling you, is the scope of her beauty. Her loveliness, witnessed, exposes  language for the woefully limited mode of communication that it is.  Nevertheless, I am always compelled to try and explain: she’s objectively and undeniably beautiful. She’s self-possessed, successful, whip-smart, often an enigma, which of course I can’t resist. She laughs with her whole body, but you’ve got to  work a little harder to make her laugh. And her eyes: clear, flinty orbs that reveal as much as they take in; more, perhaps. You’ll never learn who she is from anything that comes out of her mouth. It’s the eyes.’

Salon Summary

RECOMMENDABILITY: 3 {out of 5} stars | ★★★☆☆
REPETITIVE READABILITY: 2 {out of 5} stars | ★★☆☆☆
RATING: 4 {out of 5} stars | ★★★★☆

{This novel was gifted to Her Literary Salon by Penguin Books USA.}