I normally read narrative novels with one narrator. I prefer novels set in third person or first person, but I really found it hard to connect with the alternating narrators. I was also incredibly confused by the narrators that only spoke once and didn’t seem to add a whole lot to the story. People of Paper is very abstract in comparison to what I have read/like to read. I prefer the rare points when Plascencia is blunt with his meaning rather than the abstract. For example, when discussing Liz’s new boyfriend he comments on the notion of white supremacy, “’And he is white’” (113). The meaning with this sentence is very clear, and I find that often the magical elements of the text distract me from the author’s message.
Metafiction: In chapter 14, Liz asks the author to rewrite the book without her. “You need to remember that I exist beyond the pages of this book.” (138). Cameroon is also upset by her portrayal in the book: “’Fuck Saturn, [Cameroon] said. ‘He is not telling the whole story.’” (135).
“This was the fate of women who know too much, women who can upset the pride of Saturn. Because ultimately Saturn is a tyrant, commanding the story where he wants it to go.” (228).
Metafiction allows the author space to process his own feelings in regard to Liz and Cameroon and take power back by writing the story the way he wants it rather than the way it has happened. It also provides the reader with insight applicable to their own lives and society as a whole. It questions issues relevant to Plascencia, his characters, and the audience.
Authorial Reticence: The sections focusing on minor characters only mentioned a few times seem out of place and are not explained. For example, Ramon Barreto (81-2), Mechanic (27), Glue Sniffer (29).
Although these characters are not developed into the plot, I think the author includes them in the story to point out the importance of all people’s perspectives. Even if someone is not a main character, that does not mean they are any less important.
I have found the fantastical moments to be very confusing. Sometimes the random magic happenings distract me from the plot as a whole. For example, the Mechanical Tortoise (97) seems to just exist rather than adding anything to the story itself. While reading the book, I was not sure if I was supposed to overlook the seemingly meaningless details or if they were meant to add to the story?
“It’s a confused book; I mean I’m confused about it. I think there’s people that want to know what’s real, what’s memoir, what’s made up. A lot of the book was meant to be taken very literally, like the woman made of paper. It’s not a metaphor. You read everything literally and you escape the metaphor. I wasn’t trying to be elusive. Read it as you would science fiction or whatever. It is what it is.” –Salvador Plascencia
Plascencia is using the book to process his feelings toward circumstances in his life like Liz and Cami. The book is messy because it represents the state of his mind. People of Paper is meant to be an honest representation of Salvador Plascencia—his feelings, desires, and thoughts.