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The People of Paper

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  4,831 ratings  ·  584 reviews
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 13th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published June 6th 2005)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,831 ratings  ·  584 reviews

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Mar 09, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews

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
Feb 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mcsweeneys

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
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lee Klein
Nov 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
Vincent Scarpa
Nov 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My favorite read of the semester. One of the most affecting books I've read in recent memory. This is what I want out of literature: for the pain to be on the page. For the content to necessitate the form. Hard to believe it's his first novel, as it feels like such an accomplished work. The metatextual modality of storytelling might not be for everyone, but I found it brilliant. In the hands of a lesser writer, this book would not have been possible, I don't think. The whole concept has "doomed ...more
Kate Savage
Sep 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The first three sentences of this book are as follows: "She was made after the time of ribs and mud. By papal decree there were to be no more people born of the ground or from the marrow of bones. All would be created from the propulsions and mounts performed underneath bedsheets -- rare exception granted for immaculate conceptions."

And the rest of the book is just as delightful. I fell in love. If you're allergic to gimmicks and plot devices you might not like it -- or you might, like me, think
Mar 02, 2009 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Oriana by: Nick
oh what? I wanted to read this book already over a year ago, and three of my bookfriends say great things about it, and now it's re-recommended by Adam Levin? why am I so slow and stupid and haven't read this yet goddammit?? ...more
Ethel Margaret
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love experimental fiction, I really do, with all my heart. I love when writers break with traditional narrative, embark on bold modernist missions, play with form and the book-as-object, subvert structural demands... but if you do it wrong, it's far, far worse than it would have been as a classic, linear novel.

People of Paper is less House of Leaves than it is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is pretty much my benchmark for how not to do experimental fiction. Salvador Plascencia has
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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! ...more
Merritt K.
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
There were a bunch of things I liked here (the mechanical turtles, the lemons, the descriptions of rot and decay) but I got a little over halfway through and realized it was a story about the author being mad his girlfriend left him dressed up with irritating-at-best formal design tricks and couldn't bring myself to finish it. ...more
Jan 23, 2017 marked it as to-read
I make a soft moaning sound when I heard about this novel; it's like when you feel a tingling touch by the soft warm fingertips I'm so aroused by this book I can't even ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: never-finished
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 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the lead character in the science of sleep
Shelves: personal-library
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 way t
Feb 13, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 rated it really liked it  ·  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!

Ebony Earwig
Feb 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed reading this and it'd been on my shelf for a few years as a Christmas present and finally got around to it. It's really unique and experiments with format and columns; often placing black shapes and even holes onto the pages. I have an earlier edition so not sure if the later editions still implement all of these things, but the edition I read is a book of pure craft. The story itself is a sort of magic-realist, whimsical, biblical, metafictional abstraction (maybe I need more adj ...more
Lía Hermosillo Rojas
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nostalgia
I don't know why but this took me forever to read. It was beautiful though, and the ending really did have me in my feelings. ...more
Dora Prieto
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Pure imagination with a side of Latinx sadboy. This book completely changed my idea of what a novel could do—the list-like structure, having way too many characters (but it works, for the most part), and of course, the many juicy layers of metafiction. However, the overarching sadboy narrative had a few pitfalls. The author was self-aware in moments, but it felt clear that the self-victimization of the main character (and many of the male characters) veered towards sexism. I found this especiall ...more
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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

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