The People of Paper
by Salvador Plascencia
Physically, The People of Paper (published by McSweeney's) is beautiful. The writing is at times beautiful, too. But somewhere in the middle, the author breaks into what I think is a memoir of heartbreak. And he mourns and curses his ex-girlfriend, and this plays into the plot but also gets in the way. I did, however, get voyeuristic pleasure from this tangent.
Plascencia writes in the tradition Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but I found him more accessible.
He uses visual gimmicks, such as having multiple columns of type on a page (sometimes in multiple directions). But it's nice to see someone recognize that words are visual, too.
His characters -- like the author himself, it seems -- are in search of a cure for sadness. There is a Baby Nostradamus, a Church of Thieves, a cardinal remembering his first (and last) love. They are fable characters, but they are also, to their core, human. And that is the beauty of Plascencia's first novel.