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The People of Paperby Salvador Plascencia
Synopses & Reviews
After his wife leaves him, Federico de la Fe and his daughter Little Merced depart the town of Las Tortugas, Mexico, and head for Los Angeles. There, with the aid of a local street gang and the prophetic powers of a baby Nostradamus, they engage in an epic battle to find a cure for sadness. Mechanical tortoises, disillusioned saints hiding in wrestling rings, a woman made of paper, and Rita Hayworth are a few of the players whose destinies intertwine in this story of war and lost love. The People of Paper is simultaneously a father-daughter immigration story, a wildly inventive reimagining of Southern California mythology, and an exploration of the limits of fiction. Part memoir, part lies, this is a book about the wounds inflicted by first love and sharp objects.
"Plascencia's mannered but moving debut begins with an allegory for art and the loss that drives it: a butcher guts a boy's cat; the boy constructs paper organs for the feline, who is revivified; the boy thus becomes the world's first origami surgeon. Though Plascencia's book sometimes seems to take the form of an autobiographical attempt to come to terms with a lost love, little of this experimental work — a mischievous mix of Garca Mrquez magical realism and Tristram Shandy typographical tricks — is grounded in reality. Early on we meet a 'Baby Nostradamus' and a Catholic saint disguised as a wrestler while following the enuretic Fernando de la Fe and his lime-addicted daughter from Mexico to California. Fernando — whose wife, tired of waking in pools of piss, has left him — settles east of L.A. in El Monte. He gathers a gang of carnation pickers to wage a quixotic war against the planet Saturn and, in a Borges-like discovery, Saturn turns out to be Salvador Plascencia. Over a dozen characters narrate the story while fighting like Lilliputians to emancipate themselves from Plascencia's tyrannical authorial control. Playful and cheeky, the book is also violent and macabre: masochists burn themselves; a man bleeds horribly after performing cunnilingus on a woman made of paper. Plascencia's virtuosic first novel is explosively unreal, but bares human truths with devastating accuracy. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A stunning debut by a once-in-a-generation talent. I don't know of a young American writer more original, innovative, or intense than Salvador Plascencia. The People of Paper is harrowing and gorgeous, experimental in the truest sense: it creates new means to explore essential and timeless emotional subjects." George Saunders
"Salvador Plascencia weaves together the daily life details of this world and the big ideas surrounding them to a stirring end effect. The People of Paper is a terrifically original debut." Aimee Bender
"The People of Paper is a novel like no other, emerging from the chrysalis of magic and imagination to create a world of letters that seeps back into the world we know and then metamorphoses into something else altogether. Calvino, Borges, and Garcia Marquez will come to mind, but Plascencia's novel is a creature of its own, firmly grounded and soaring at the same time." T. C. Boyle
"The People of Paper is impressive on terms anyone can appreciate. Behind all the devices, Plascencia still manages to construct a classic story." Los Angeles Times
"[I]t's sometimes difficult to follow the plotline. But, oh, is it fun." San Francisco Chronicle
"Plascencia's surrealistic metanovel, styled a la Garcia Marquez, is a charming meditation on the relationship between reader, author, and story line, filled with mythic imagery...readers will find it hard to turn away." Entertainment Weekly
Among gang warfare and paper cuts, this book is about the wounds made by first love and sharp objects. The People of Paper reveals the ever elusive prophesies of the Shandean Baby Nostradamus and the approximate temperature and incendiary potential of halos. Herein disillusioned and AWOL saints reclaim their crowns and fight purses, while a gang of flower pickers go off to war, led by a lonely man who cannot help but wet his bed in sadness. Part memoir, part lies, this is a story about loving a woman made of paper.
Part memoir, part lies, this imaginative tale is a story about loving a woman made of paper, about the wounds made by first love and sharp objects.
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