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Metafictional Miracles'

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New novel offers insight into the nature of truth

Just how true must something be in order to be considered 'truth'? And what makes one truth truer than another?

These are the kinds of questions that sit at the center of 'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles' (Viking; $26.95), the latest novel from acclaimed author (and Waterville resident) Ron Currie Jr. Through one man's physical, intellectual and emotional quests, the reader is swept up into a tale of love and loss - and yes, the nature of truth - told in a unique voice.

How unique? Here's the thing: the protagonist of Ron Currie's story is, wellRon Currie. Sort of. Our hero/narrator is an amalgam; a creamy blend of author and character. And our hero's got some issues. He's a published writer whose expected new novel has burned in a fire. His father's death weighs ever-heavier on his psyche. He's madly in love with Emma has been since grade school but the relationship refuses to sit still, ricocheting from loving to loathing with passionate toxicity. Emma's beauty, intellect and wit are all Ron has ever wanted, and yet that yearning inevitably veers into the realm of self-destruction.

So he exiles himself to a remote Caribbean island, intending to write a new book and exorcise himself from Emma's influence; he strives to pry loose love's fingers from their grip on his soul. Of course, it's never that easy Ron descends into a maelstrom of self-loathing perpetuated by booze and powered by conflict; conflict with the few people around him as well as with himself.

But it's when he decides to finally take what he deems the inevitable last step to take his own life that he finds himself forced to confront the truth. For a given value of 'truth,' that is.

'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles' is a whirlwind of imagination and insight. It's the sort of novel that not only openly challenges the reader, but does so with grace and gusto. What Currie has created is a fictional memoir a sort of unauthorized autobiography that blurs the line between life and literature. Could it be that the book being written in the book is actually the book that we are now reading? That it's even a question speaks volumes about Currie's creativity and craftsmanship.

Mere synopsis of plot doesn't do it justice; not because the story is lacking, but rather because it is so richly constructed. There's meaning in every line and meaning between them. The connecting threads of the novel his father's death, his love of Emma, the looming Singularity, life on society's margins are all pouring forth from the same fountainthe fountain of truth. It's an exploration of what truth truly means. 

This is the kind of metafictional exercise that could very well wind up seeming self-serving and pedantic in the hands of a lesser talent. In Currie's hands, however, it is a vivid work of vision; a most ingeniously original work. It is clever without being condescending and evocative without being over-the-top not to mention one of the funniest books I've read in ages.

'Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles' is fiction that transcends the traditional telling of tales. Currie has found a pathway to the epic through intimacy, creating something great by way of the small. By using himself as a stand-in for all the little fictions we create for ourselves every day, he has mined a larger truth. This is a powerfully moving and stimulating work.

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