Rating: 4 / 5
A year or so ago I was at The Strand and overheard a staff member recommend Everything Matters! to another patron. He basically described that novel as one of the best books he’s read that year, so of course I had to read it too. And let me tell you, it was fabulous. It was witty, thought-provoking, and well-written. Another author I admire? Chris Bohjalian. I enjoyed The Double Bind and more recently, The Sandcastle Girls immensely. And then I read an article by Bohjalian about Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles. Ummm…be still my heart? I didn’t even know Ron Currie Jr. had another book out, so I had to rectify that immediately.
Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is the narrator’s (also named Ron Currie Jr.) story of his love for Emma Zielinski, and how that love, coupled with his astronomically bad decision-making skills derails his life. He moves to a remote island because Emma wanted distance from him to sort out her own life, and while there, he strings along a new girl Charlotte, then decides to commit suicide. The kicker is though, that he fails to actually die, but decides that since everyone thinks he died, he might as well disappear forever. Unbeknownst to him, his unfinished manuscript gets published (and his suicide note spreads like wildfire) and is a massive success. When he reemerges, though, he has to confront the consequences of faking his own death, and discovers that maybe staying dead to the world would have been the better option.
On paper, I loved Currie Jr’s character, the only qualifier is that he’s a real a-hole and in real life, I know I would hate him. He seems to not care about those closest to him, and lives his life in a perpetual tunnel-vision, with only the thought of getting Emma at the end. While he knows that his choices are wrong, he seems incapable of actually steering his ship toward the good and noble docks.
I loved the last quarter of the book. This is not to say that the first three-quarters were slow, but that Currie Jr.’s story really came alive for me when he left the Bedouin community and reestablished himself as still amongst the living. I thought it was insightful how he portrayed today’s litigious society, and posed the question of whether the meaning of a story is more important than its veracity.
Currie Jr.’s writing style is unconventional, but it works. Not many authors can effectively jump around in time throughout the story, but with Currie Jr., the content and the thought process matter more than the chronology of events. Currie Jr’s writing is humorous, real, intelligent, destructive, thought-provoking, and enjoyable. Although I like Everything Matters! more, it’s just a tad bit more, but still consider Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles a worthy read.