Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, written by Ron Currie Jr., is about a man named Ron Currie Jr. Both are writers, both lost their fathers to illness, and apparently both are tragically in love with a captivating but unattainable woman. To escape, Ron Currie Jr (the character, not the author) retreats to a tropical island to drink and fight; there, he accidentally fakes his death, making his failed manuscript into a bestseller.
It might seem like I gave away most of the book in the first paragraph. But even though that storyline boasts more depth and late-game surprises than I expected, it’s overshadowed by the narrator’s musings about the Singularity, his father’s illness, and Emma, the woman he loves. These asides are frequent, often right in the middle of the action, but mostly they’re authentic; moving memories of his life or fascinating bits of technology history (did you know that robots once made the stock market crash more than 1000 points in just minutes?)
Sometimes, Currie the author slips into a self-conscious style, in which I can imagine him thinking a lot about people reading his book and what they might feel about it. I can understand that’s a hard mindset to break but it just served to disengage me here and there. Some of the characters seem too obviously crafted to fill a particular role in the story, sometimes even Emma, on whom the book spends a lot of time. On one page, we’re assured she’s not sad, she’s happy. On the rest of the pages, she seems very sad and impossibly beautiful and magnetic and every guy wants her but no one can have her, and I’ve seen that kind of character too many times.
Sometimes I think I would have preferred the book if it were distilled to the narrator’s relationship with his father, but I liked where Emma’s storyline led him and us, geographically and emotionally.
If you think you want to read this book really soon, you can! In a week or so I’ll pick a random commenter from this post and send them a new hardback copy of this book. I’ll even autograph it. (Just kidding, I won’t, I know you don’t want that.)