In his previous acclaimed novels, Ron Currie Jr. deals with such topics as God on Earth (2007’s “God Is Dead”) and armageddon (2009’s “Everything Matters!”). It’s no surprise that his latest work, “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles,” takes on another epic theme: love, or as Currie puts it, “a certain kind of love.”
Here, it is the obsessive, painful, almost mythic love between a reclusive writer (basically Currie with fantastical embellishments) and his high school sweetheart, Emma, who has come back amidst her divorce 20 years later. It’s a love that is either too intense — both in a mental way and in a “Fifty Shades” way — or not intense enough to sustain itself, depending on the day.
“This is an honest effort to dissect [love], to filet it, to lay it open and display it in a way that almost defies embarrassment,” says the 37-year-old author from his native Maine. “What I’m really interested in is all the parts of love that we hide from other people, even the people who are closest to us.”
Presented in meticulously worded single-page thoughts that skip through different points in time before connecting together in one Vonnegut-esque mosaic of a story, Currie describes his own ruminations on love as the “literary equivalent of an AA meeting.” It’s a metaphor that doubly resonates with the day-drinking depression of the novel’s protagonist as he languishes in the Caribbean, ruminates on the death of his father and even goes so far as to fake his own death (before watching himself become posthumously famous).
With trademark warmth and subtle humor, Currie makes grandiose themes eminently readable. “I’m guilty of taking on the big topics, almost compulsively. There is very little else that’s worth writing about.”
For the past four winters, Currie has lived in Vieques, an island off of Puerto Rico. Much like the version of himself in “Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles,” the novelist goes there to write and to escape the brutal Maine winters.
“It’s sort of counterintuitive to think that going to the Caribbean is good for one’s work ethic, but for me it is,” says Currie of the small getaway where he finds the fortitude needed to beat the telltale doubts that come with writing a great novel. “It doesn’t matter if you are Chekhov or Saul Bellow.”
Ron Currie Jr.
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