Audiobook Review: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie Jr.

5 02 2013

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie Jr,

Read by Jake Hart

Penguin Audio

Length: 8 Hrs 6 Min

Genre: Literary Fiction

Quick Thoughts: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is a literary novel with a sprinkling of science fictional philosophizing. A rambling piece of conversational surrealism, that is as engaging as it is enraging. Ron Currie tells his true story with emotional honestly, even though it’s really not his story, and even if it was, it’s so influenced by his perceptions that it’s nowhere near the truth. Still, it was a fun and sort of weird audiobook experience, and for people looking for something just a little bit different, one that I most certainly recommend. 

Grade: B+

I think it’s pretty obvious to most readers that any work of fiction is just that, fiction. Yet, often times what we know, and what we KNOW are two different things.  I know, that despite my intellectual understanding that a book is merely a made up story involving made up characters doing made up things, that I ofter feel there is some level of truth in every piece of fiction. Somewhere, the line is blurred between the protagonist of a story, and the writer. The love interest that our protagonist is falling for, in our minds, is just a thinly veiled love interest from somewhere in the author’s life. We expect emotional honestly from the people who we pay to lie to us. I think the internet, and particularly social media has only amped up this feeling, removing the layers between author and reader. There used to be so much more separation between author and reader, yet now we can read about funny things their kids did, what book they are reading, which is their favorite beer and their impression of the latest political scandal. We interact with the authors more, becoming their friend simply by clicking on a link and supporting them by retweets and likes. Recently there was a scandal where an author, one whose work I have enjoyed in the past, was called out for writing fake reviews, both praising his work and bashing his so called rivals. I was disheartened by this, shocked at the dishonestly, the unprofessionalism and shady actions of this author who has told me stories I have enjoyed. Since then, I haven’t read his work, which, on retrospect, seems sort of strange. Do I now no longer trust his protagonist, because, for all I know, he’s just a sock puppet who slips out in the dead of night to punch puppies and write graffiti on the walls of KinderCare?

In Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, Ron Currie Jr., author of the wonderful Everything Matters, tells the story of a possibly suicidal, obsessively infatuated, and somewhat unfocused author named Ron Currie Jr. The story itself is an often hilarious, sometimes frustrating conversational account of his relationship with the women he’s loved all his life, the death of his father, and his barely mid-list writing career that takes a weird turn after a possibly botched maybe suicide attempt allows him to fake his own death. I had so many mixed feelings about Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles. I absolutely loved the beginning. It’s a mix of a sort of pretentious psuedo-babble, tempered by a self deprecating honestly that only suffers because of the total lack of self awareness by the author or maybe the main character, whoever is actually telling the story.  I loved the ending as well, which is a rewarding payoff of the Kaufmaneque deconstruction of the third wall between author and reader that the novel takes on. Yet, the middle of the novel was a weird ride of conflicting themes and unfocused ramblings, that made me laugh, shake my head, and sometimes wonder if something was going over my head. I can’t really explain what I took away from it, but I’m going to try. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is not a love story, it’s a story about a love story. It’s a tale of one man’s journey to become self aware, only to discover that self awareness sucks. It’s an almost poetic account of how one day society will achieve perfection when the machines finally become sentient, and strip away all the human and biological flaws, allowing us to live in a state of bliss or erase ourselves completely. Basically, Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is like sitting next to a drunk writer, as he attempts to be pretentious, scolds himself for being pretentious, tells the stories of his greatest love, the death of his father, and his biggest mistake. There were times when I absolutely loved this book and there were other times where I wasn’t exactly sure what the fuck I was listening to. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is a literary novel with a sprinkling of science fictional philosophizing. A rambling piece of conversational surrealism, that is as engaging as it is enraging. Ron Currie tells his true story with emotional honestly, even though it’s really not his story, and even if it was, it’s so influenced by his perceptions that it’s nowhere near the truth. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles is fiction, except where it’s not. I think.

One of the reason’s I was excited about this book is I truly believe Ron Currie’s style translates wonderfully to Audio. His novel, Everything Matters, was one of the most unique and fascinating audiobooks I have listened to, and had a wonderful cast of narrators. Yet, one of the problems with being someone who listens to so many audiobooks, is despite how well a narrator performs, occasionally you can’t help but think how much better the overall experience would be if another narrator handled the role. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles was narrated by a new to me, and seemingly new to audiobooks narrator named Jake Hart. There were moments in this audiobook where Hart captured the conversational tones of the novel perfectly. He would add a tint of an affected accent, or have a small break in his voice that fit the mood of the novel to a tee. There were other moments where he sounded more like a professional narrator than a guy telling us a story. It was like, instead of being told about a particularly absurd moments by the guy sitting on the bar stool next to you, you were being recited the facts of a situation by the "Welcome to Movie Phone" guy. Much of the time listening to the audiobook, I just couldn’t help thinking how awesome the book would be if it was narrated by Ray Porter. Not that Jake Hart was bad, he wasn’t. It was more so that I though this book was particularly well suited to audio, and deserved the best first person narrator in the business. Still, it was a fun and sort of weird audiobook experience, and for people looking for something just a little bit different, one that I most certainly recommend. 

Note: Thanks to Penguin Audio for providing a copy of this title for review.

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2 responses

5 02 2013
Carl V. Anderson

What a great review. Fascinated by what you had to say even though I have to be honest in saying that the book itself is not something I am leaning towards wanting to read, or listen to, at this point. I do get in the mood for this kind of thing once in awhile though so I know to never say “never”.

It is almost too bad with a book like this that it isn’t author-narrated. Although that might blur the line between reality and fiction too much, but it also might make for a very interesting take away from the experience.

8 02 2013
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

Even though Hart wasn’t the BEST narrator, this still sounds really good.

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