Marissa Bell Toffoli

Interview With Writer Ron Currie, Jr

In books, fiction, writing on February 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Ron Currie, Jr

Ron Currie, Jr. Photo By Lisa Prosienski.

An introduction to Ron Currie, Jr, author of the novels Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles (Viking, 2013), Everything Matters!, and God is Dead. Currie has won the Young Lions Award from the New York Public Library, and the Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His latest novel is a wild ride, full of heart and heat. When asked where the idea came from for Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, Currie said, “From my life, mostly.”

Quick Facts on Ron Currie, Jr

  • Follow Ron @rcurriejr on Twitter
  • Home: Waterville, Maine
  • Comfort food: Bushmills Irish Whiskey
  • Top reads: Changes all the time, but there are mainstays—Raymond Carver, David Foster Wallace, Kurt Vonnegut, Grace Paley, Lorrie Moore
  • Current reads: Assholes: A Theory, by Aaron James

What are you working on at the moment?

A few essays. One’s about Patrick Swayze, another is about mass shootings and intrusive thoughts. I’m sort of idly jotting down notes for a screenplay idea about a man who decides to do everything he can to make himself as close to the American average as possible, as well, and sorting through four or five concepts for a new novel.  

What do you hope readers will take away from Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles?

It’s the same hope with everything I write: that I’ll be able to say something of substance and entertain at the same time. I’m a firm believer in the author’s obligation to at least try to entertain his audience.

Whom would you describe as the ideal reader of your work?

I’ll preface this by saying I understand and accept that no matter how good a novel is, there are people for whom it will not work at all, but: everyone, is my ideal reader. As much time as we spend focusing on the borders between us—I’m black, you’re white, I’m male, you’re female, I’m from New England, you’re from Indonesia, I was born in the 20th century, you were born in the 18th—there are basic universalities, and good writers seek to tap into and illuminate them.

“There are basic universalities,

and good writers seek

to tap into and illuminate them.”

Where and when do you prefer to write?

It changes. While doing the heavy lifting on Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, I was in a sort of self-imposed isolation on a small Caribbean island. Other times, I can usually be found on the love seat in my living room, with my feet propped up on the coffee table and the laptop right where you’d imagine.

Do you listen to anything while you write?

Sometimes. I find that certain music, under the right conditions, can sort of crack me open emotionally in a way that’s really good for the writing.

It’s been said writers can do their work from any place, where would you most want to live and write?

I feel like I should have a ready answer for this, but I don’t. I like the small Caribbean island quite a lot, and am thinking of it quite fondly now, since as I write this it’s about five degrees Fahrenheit here in Maine.

Do you have a philosophy for, or an approach to, how and why you write?

This is just one aspect of it, but I had a conversation with a very smart and celebrated writer whom I respect very much about how no matter how far afield a writer goes in terms of style, theme, plot, whatever, it all ultimately must exist in the service of a very plain, very human, very relatable story. The way he put it was that without this human aspect, there’s “nothing for the horses to pull.” Which I just thought was very sharp.

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Drumming up the motivation and courage to do it every day.

How have your goals as a writer changed over time?

They’ve become more modest. Just the other day, I realized that, at least right now, I feel like my only real ambition as a novelist is to leave behind an accurate record of what it was like to be a very particular kind of human being. No mean feat, that, but I think it’s doable.

Is there a quote about writing that motivates or inspires you?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” That’s Hemingway.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

“Don’t be lazy, not even for a single sentence.”

Don’t be lazy, not even for a single sentence. A corollary to that is: learn not to bullshit yourself about whether you’re being lazy.

Is there a question you find surprising that people ask you about your work?

I guess not, but once at a reading I was asked what I do at the gym to work on my forearms. That was a surprising question.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Watch baseball, work out, skulk in bars. Read, of course.

About Ron Currie, Jr

Ron Currie, Jr is the author of three novels, the most recent of which is Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles. He’s won the Young Lions Award from the New York Public Library, as well as the Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into 17 languages. He lives in Maine.

Buy Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, preferably at your local independent bookstore.

[Toffoli, Marissa B. “Interview With Writer Ron Currie, Jr.” Words With Writers (February 11, 2013),]

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles

Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie, Jr (Viking, 2013).

  1. Hi Marissa,

    Thanks for the new post!! Also, would you know of any writers that would be interested in publishing with SpicyLetter? I’m now considering this season’s edition and am interested in poetry, fiction or non-fiction. I’ve received some great responses to the journal, yet am having to actively query for new writers.

    If you know of writers, please feel free to give them my email address and ask that they include: Publishing with SpicyLetter in the address window.

    Thanks much, Yon Walls Editor


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