Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The People of Paper” as Want to Read:
The People of Paper
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The People of Paper

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  3,190 ratings  ·  429 reviews
Amidst disillusioned saints hiding in wrestling rings, mothers burnt by glowing halos, and a Baby Nostradamus who sees only blackness, a gang of flower pickers heads off to war, led by a lonely man who cannot help but wet his bed in sadness. Part memoir, part lies, this is a book about the wounds inflicted by first love and sharp objects.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 13th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published June 6th 2005)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The People of Paper, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The People of Paper

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Best Books of the 21st Century
367th out of 5,481 books — 13,445 voters
If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo CalvinoSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt VonnegutHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiThe Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
56th out of 283 books — 353 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

tl;dr review: High on style and imagination, low on substance.

Salvador Plascencia wanted the People of Paper (PoP) to make a smashing impression at the party. He went to great lengths to pick a dazzling dress, right accessories, make-up and all that. While this made for an eye-catching presence, he forgot to hook PoP up with cue cards listing some interesting things to talk about that could have kept the guests enthralled.

The People of Paper suffers from being the author's first novel. Plascenci

I don't know what to write about this book. Anything I say feels like a spoiler, even if it's not exactly one. The novel unfolds at the pace of the author and giving away anything feels like I'm making a decision about what you should or shouldn't know before the author thinks you should know something. TC Boyle gives a fairly good idea for the novel when he compares it to Calvino and Borges. Those names get thrown around a lot and most of the time they are big flags for a book being flashy with
Dec 11, 2011 s.penkevich rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Seekers of creative new forms, metafiction fans, and kids who can't get over their ex
Shelves: metafiction
In the Cohen’s film Barton Fink, Barton (John Turturro) says he believes “that writing comes from a great inner pain.” Plascencia seems to also subscribe to this belief In The People of Paper, as the “great inner pain” felt by the author and all his creations is the impetus for their lives and actions. This novel pushes metafiction to new boundaries and does really unique things with form, however, the novel does have its share of pitfalls as Plascencia’s obsession with the “inner pain” begins t ...more
If McSweeney's were a person, I would shove his/her (to be gender-fair about it) head in a toilet, make a YouTube video about it and hopefully gain riches and fame out of the ensuing millions of fans who were just too afraid to state openly that they, too, despise everything about McSweeney's. Including its progeny -books like The People of Paper.

Lest you think I am just a hateful person, let me explain. My problem with this book is multifold and not just purely irrationally generating from my
Matt Eckel
Sep 20, 2007 Matt Eckel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anybody who's bored with reading
I got to meet Sal at a reading he gave at Skylight Books. He was touring the country with Eli Horowitz from McSweeney's (publisher). Sal is from El Monte and a bunch of his family and friends were at the reading. A lot of people were carrying heads of lettuce, which I didn't quite get. It was totally packed and even though I got there a little early, I had to stand way in the back. Sal read the selected excerpt, and then at a certain predetermined moment, members of the audience (the ones with t ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The more realistic bits about the author and his lady friends jump off these pages, especially when they rip the story so far. The rest -- the revolt against omniscient narration and the commodification of sadness -- while consistently clever and carefully composed, had me back on my readerly heels. I respect the experiment in theory (inventive multi-POV meta cleverness sounds good, right?) but in practice it seems like I'm more conservative these days and less wooable by format than I may have ...more
I am literally obsessed with this book. It was one of three books I included in my thesis on the response of contemporary experimental print literature to the digital threat. It is a beautiful, moving exploration of the place of the author; the transience of paper, narrative and relationships; and so, so many more things. This book made me cry by cutting a whole in a page. That shouldn't even be possible. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this incredible book. Admittedly, I've also spen ...more
The People of Paper is a novel about writing a novel. It follows, at the beginning, two separate storylines that are in fact inseparable. Salvador "Saturn" Plascencia is an aspiring novelist whose girlfriend leaves him when it becomes apparent that he cannot balance the novel and his relationship with her. The second storyline involves the novel's characters, Froggy, Little Merced, Sandra, Federico de la Fe, etc. Living in El Monte, Federico de la Fe decides he can no longer stand the omnipresen ...more
sanırım hepimizin kederi alt etme yöntemleri farklı, yanıklar,kağıt kesikleri, arılar; ama bir yandan da "kederden besleniyoruz". bir arkadaşım aşık olduğu zamanlar-platonik olarak diyelim- acıkmadığından bahsetmişti. bunlar hep keder

not:keder piramidi ve daha fazlası için
yayınevinin blogundan

bu da benden
Ethel Margaret
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Metafiction can be offputting; its reflective trickery can read as self-absorbed and altogether too precious. But Plascencia somehow skirts this effect, developing characters--literal and figurative "people of paper"--that a reader can become absorbed in while remaining aware and appreciative of the craft behind their construction. It's study and fiction and memoir and book art rolled into one.

But here's the brain fuck: What's the significance if one knows--as I've been told is true by a person
Well, I would say it was a wonderful book! If it just hadn't been so hard to read it..! In my edition of the book, some parts are written on the side, some chapters are blank, and I understood that this is how the author wanted it to be, but it made reading it a bit harder. The story was great, and I really love how the author writes, it gives you a feeling of a different reality when you read it, because it seems so serious! Anyways, great book!
James Barker
Beware the blurb! Whichever wily marketeer decided to compare Plascencia with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Italo Calvino did the writer no favours. A cloying mix of magic realism and metafiction, which suggests in turn the name-checked writers at their worst, the result is strangely soulless and the first 100 pages feel something of a chore.

The author has talent but as a first novel 'The People of Paper' tries hard to impress and the addition of the kitchen sink- one full of washing water- leads t
Sep 08, 2007 Sierra rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: folks who like borges, calvino & marquez
"This book is SO good. Very reminiscent of Borges and Calvino, if Borges and Calvino had written about pachuco gangs, maquiladoras and Rita Hayworth's ersatz Mexican origins. Do not read this book if magical realism makes you gag." This is what I wrote about halfway into this book, and while I stand behind the neato-neatness of the ideas here, I also put this down and read other stuff, even though I was only about thirty pages from the end. Why, you ask? Because, my dear, Plascencia went all Mar ...more
Kind of a funny book here from the people at McSweeney's. I should disclose I am not normally a McSweeney's fan. I'm not sure if I just 'don't get it', I'm a few rungs down on the 'hip ladder' or what. This book is kind of like if Joe Meno's 'The Boy Detective Fails' met up with Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation and they had a love child. And then they would incessantly read '100 Years of Solitude' as bedtime stories. Said lovechild would probably write this book.

I'll get back to this book when Mr. C
Oct 05, 2007 Chelsea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the lead character in the science of sleep
this book is absolutely amazing.
a little like following a gang of children as they collectively tell a tale of wonder while you're wondering how they've seen so much of life already. maybe it's the innocence and hope, intermingled with indescribable & utterly perplexing sadness.

written in columns by character perspective, drawing on rich imagery of flower harvesting and astrological intervention, and utilizing the tormented, love abandoned heart, salvador deftly mesmerized me.. in such a w
Feb 07, 2012 Andrea rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of One Hundred Years of Solitude
Amazing. Brilliant.

I would write a review, but someone else already said it better:
"Self-aware like Calvino's If On a Winter's Night a Traveller. Magical like Marquez' 100 Years. Clever like Foer. Just reading the dust-jacket got me giddy. People of Paper lived up to it all."

All I can think of is starting over again as soon as I'm finished. I think I would be happy if this were the only book I had in my possession. It will definitely be on my list of favorites with One Hundred Years of Solitude
This was the most gimmicky book I have ever read. If you are able to read without being annoyed by pretty out of hand post-modern bullshit, this might be a pretty good book. It got on my nerves though.
Nov 19, 2007 Joseph rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers
marquez & calvino and po-mo surreal. anyone who eats the paper vagina of a girl is worth reading about. ca'mon!

THE PEOPLE OF PAPER is not an easy book to describe. You can throw around terms like 'postmodern' and 'magical realism' to try to get a grip on it. While both of those are accurate, they're too small for THE PEOPLE OF PAPER. It's a highly experimental novel, ambitious, a mesh of fiction and fact, a meditation on art, the debut of Salvador Plascencia, and it should be a total mess. There is a character whose name is cut out of the book. But it's a mesmerizing work that exceeds its ambition and st ...more
Darya Conmigo
I don't think I've ever read anything quite like The People of Paper, so I'm not sure how to talk about it. One thing is clear though - I'm glad this novel crossed my path.

There are many things to love about this book. Salvador Plascencia's prose is beautiful, personal and poetic. And profoundly sad, if you don't mind that aspect. The El Monte world is very atmospheric, with its traveling monks and mechanic tortoises. And the characters! They are created of paper by origami surgeons; they predi
post-modern books, unhinged from the gravity of history and human experience, tend to meander in the ether willy-nilly. In the wake of their deconstruction it seems pointless for the other (me, you, the reader) to grab on to anything. the author's subjectivity reigns and one is usually left in a world of awkward images that give a fleeting impression of deep emotions or thoughts. this book is no different in its affect yet its very personal, honest approach allows some beautiful images to shine. ...more
The People of Paper is hilarious, crazy and clever. As a reader, I was confused whether the text takes itself seriously (as in whether its target reader should focus on all the allusions, inter and intra-textual webs, subversion of immigration narratives) or the book playfully means to frustrate an austere reader/critique's desire to look for patterns and meanings in people of paper (characters in this case). It was partly this ambiguity that prompted me to put it on my syllabus for a course I t ...more
Reading this reminded me a little of Murakami's The WindUp Bird Chronicles in terms of the surrealism. There was a time when people were made of paper. A boy's cat is butchered and the grieving boy revivifies his cat by making paper organs and becomes the world's first origami surgeon. A woman is made of paper while her creature is left with multiple paper cuts all over his hands. A baby Nostradamus is born. A man loses his lime eating wife because he can't stop wetting the bed, and decides to t ...more
Geçen yıl okumuştum bu kitabı, hem de yüzyıllık yalnızlık'ın hemen sonrasında, o nedenle bu iki kitap benim zihnimde bir bütün halindeler. Halen kitabı bir tutku ile hatırladığımı fark ettim. Yazar ne anlattı bilmiyorum ama kamplumbağa kabuğunda yaşayan insanlar, kağıttan bir kız, yazarın söyleyemedikleri, yazarından kaçanlar, satürnler, bir şey düşünmemek için bahçeye çiçek ekenler, her şey unufak olduğu için plastiğe sarılanlar, canı yananlar,acıdan canını yakanlar, ölmeyenler, kaçanlar benim ...more
Jun 03, 2007 Chris rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like sarcastic stories about love.
I enjoyed this. It has a very non-linear style, with multiple narrators co-narrating the story simultaneously. There's also the fact that the plot is completely insane.
Characters flow in and out of reality, interacting with the narrator, with each other, and with historical figures on an equal plane that often makes no sense but also often connects in tagential ways that are interesting anyway. The same story is basically told on three different planes of existance, and they collide and depart a
this wasn't the first piece of metafiction that i've read, but it is without a doubt the best. i fell in love with this book pretty early on in the story, and that love just kept growing and growing. everything is so perfectly woven together, and everything unravels beautifully towards the end. An absolutely wonderful little love story: imaginative, harrowing and emotional. The novel is outwardly surreal, but the characters provide an accurate portrayal of human behavior, especially in times of ...more
Aug 13, 2007 Jenny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lillian
Shelves: fiction
magical, sad and painfully well-played, this lovely meta-ish novel grips, smacks and coddles with all manner of dreamy metaphors and the unrelenting allegories of the plots and subplots. there's enough reality, even with these devices, to make the book, all about heartbreak, a total heartbreaker. i read it at my friend lilly's house over last thanksgiving in tacoma, so i associate it with her army of teas, napping with buster and leather the cats, and the rainy northwest coast. but most of the n ...more
M. Fatih Kutan
Bir kere yazar romanın içinde; tepede ve gizlenmiş düşüncelerin üzerinde yalpalıyor. İnsanların kâğıttan olduğunu öğreten o ismi anılmayasıca kadına ithaf edilmiş bir Güney Amerika çeşnisi Kâğıt İnsanlar. Bay Plascencia, ukalalık yapıp bir romanın başına oturduğunda ve bir kadının peşinden süründüğünde, insanların kâğıttan yapıldığı tam olarak idrak ettiğinde ismi anılmayasıca kadına saydırmaca oynuyor olacak: kaltak, kaltak, kaltak. Juan Rulfo'nun hayaletlerinin gölgesinde ve Marquez'in büyüley ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Facts of Winter
  • The World to Come
  • Motorman
  • Vacation
  • The Discovery of Heaven
  • Vanishing Point
  • One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box: Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape, How the Water Feels to the Fishes, and Minor Robberies
  • Icelander
  • The Unabridged Pocketbook of Lightning (Pocket Penguin 70's #11)
  • The Secret Lives of People in Love
  • Fever Chart
  • Hunting and Gathering
  • The Convalescent
  • Log of the S.S. the Mrs. Unguentine
  • The Seas
  • The Children's Hospital
  • Bowl of Cherries
  • The Instructions
Salvador Plascencia is an American writer, born 1976 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The Plascencia family eventually settled near Los Angeles in the city of El Monte when he was eight years old. Plascencia holds a B.A. in English from Whittier College and an MFA in fiction from Syracuse University. The recipient of a National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts Award in Fiction in 1996 and the Peter Ne
More about Salvador Plascencia...
Composition No. 1 You Never Forget How to Ride a Bike: Lessons Learned by the Students of John Marshall High School Salt Hill 16 (Summer 2004)

Share This Book

“I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals.” 1058 likes
“One day I will forgive you; until then there are scabs everywhere that you have touched me.” 71 likes
More quotes…