Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr.

Flimsy_Little_Plastic_Miracles ★★★★½
Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles
A Novel by Ron Currie, Jr.
2013 / 352 Pages

Ron Currie, Jr.’s forthcoming novel Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is, on the surface, a story of unrequited love.  The novel follows a struggling writer (a character who bears the same name as the author) who is madly in love with a woman named Emma.  And while Emma may be equally in love with Ron, their timing is never quite right, and Ron spends his days pining for his one true love.  Eventually, he decides to end his agony by committing suicide – which ends with Ron alive and the rest of the world thinking he’s dead.  Of course, the controversy surrounding his life and death catapult his unfinished book into bestseller status, but when Ron is revealed to be alive and well (okay maybe not well, but alive nonetheless), the world is outraged by such a deception.

In terms of plot structure, there’s nothing to suggest that this book is remarkable, but Ron Currie has a way with language that I’ve never encountered before.  It isn’t flowery or superfluous.  It is candid, honest, and raw.  And as I mentioned last week, it might just be one of the most quotable books of the year.  At times it is hilarious and goofy, but the more you read, the more you realize how piercingly forthright the narrative is.  Because it isn’t just a book about unrequited love and what might have been. It’s a book about grief.  Ron grieves for Emma, yes, but he also grieves for the devastating loss of his father, his career, and life as it was supposed to be.  He offers no excuses for the choices he makes along the way, but instead presents the facts of the story – the “capital-T Truth,” if you will.

Of course, when you talk about truth, you must also talk about perception and reaction, and Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles slowly asks readers to examine their own version of truth and reality.  Facts are emotionless and static, but truth is relative, and perception is always a gamble.  As Ron says:

Why should the story suddenly mean any less to you because it isn’t factual?  It’s a ridiculous distinction to begin with…Perception is singular and faulty and unreliable.  I will remember today’s events differently than you will…Does this mean that either of us is lying?  Of course not.  But if neither of us is lying, then neither of us is telling the truth, either.  We’re incapable of it.  We are not reportage machines.  We’re perception machines.

Well, we know that knowledge is both good and evil, and Ron’s version might be said to land on the evil side.  But even so, it’s equally possible to grieve over a lie as it is to grieve over truth.  And while the world is mourning Ron’s lie, Ron must suffer his own truth, which proves to be comparatively consequential.  He wonders:

Why is grief, when inspired by certain types of loss, considered something to surmount, to get over, while when inspired by other types of loss it’s given a pass, allowed and even encouraged to go on forever?

He doesn’t pretend to have an answer, and it’s likely that no one does.  Love, loss, and grief are such intimate and profound emotions, and as Ron points out, our brains are not even equipped with the vocabulary tools to accurately describe such sentiments.  That being said, Ron Currie Jr. gets pretty close.  His musings on love, sex, and regret tap into something universal and inherent – things that we know and feel but cannot articulate.  Additional reflections on subjects like family, technology, alcoholism, and science serve to further punctuate Currie’s wisdom.  And in his assertion that “bodies are built to move, to manipulate objects and mark their environment,” we are reminded of Ron Currie, Jr.’s physical presence in the literary world.  And that is something for which we should all be grateful.

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles will be released on February 7, 2013, and is published by Viking.

About Karli Cude

Karli Cude, previous moderator of Hooked Bookworm, is an avid reader and former bookseller. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in English Literature in 2010 and completed a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences in 2013.