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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
"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
"[I]t's sometimes difficult to follow the plotline. But, oh, is it fun." San Francisco Chronicle
"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
"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 an astonishing debut novel about the anguish of lost love. Author Salvador Plascencia, a "once-in-a-generation talent" (George Saunders), weaves together the stories of a large cast of colorful characters, including: a disgruntled monk, a father and daughter, a gang of carnation pickers, and a woman made of paper.
"The People of Paper is a novel like no other . . . Calvino, Borges, and García Márquez 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
Federico de la Fe is a devoted husband and father, but his lime-loving wife, Merced, abandons him, and he and his daughter, Little Merced (who also loves limes), must start a new life together. They leave their home in Mexico and head for California, where they settle among a community of flower-pickers. Federico de la Fes sadness festers, and Little Merceds love for limes develops into a dangerous addiction.
All the while, an oppressive force bears down on the town. When the identity of this mysterious oppressor is finally revealed, the story takes an unexpected turn and moves toward its magical, breathtaking end. A mesmerizing debut novel about the anguish of lost love, The People of Paper marks the arrival of an incredibly talented new writer.
"Wondrous and comically inventive."—The New York Times Book Review
"[A] charming meditation on the relationship between reader, author, and story line, filled with mythic imagery and unforgettable personalities . . . Readers will find it hard to turn away from The People of Paper. A."--Entertainment Weekly
"A nervy new voice."—San Francisco Chronicle
"[I]mpressive on terms anyone can appreciate."--Los Angeles Times
SALVADOR PLASCENCIA was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and now lives in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Whittier College and holds an MFA from Syracuse University. The People of Paper is his first novel.
About the Author
Salvador Plascencia was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and now lives in Los Angeles. He is a graduate of Whittier College and holds an MFA from Syracuse University.
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