Thursday, July 14, 2005

L.A. Weekly Interviews Plascencia...

new hope that the American novel isn't dead, just sleeping?

Salvador Plascencia is not into authenticity. Wearing a Smiths T-shirt and heavy black-framed glasses, he hunches over his coffee cup and explains. “I’m not interested in realism or documentary or reportage,” he says, and anxiously swats the words away.

It’s a relief: The wide boulevards that stretch outside the window are real enough. We’re eating at Flo’s, a brick-walled El Monte coffee shop not far from the house where Plascencia’s parents still live. El Monte is pretty bleak, but not in any picturesquely gritty, inner-city way. It’s just barren, stuck hard with the edge-city doldrums — yawning stucco plains of tire shops, Toyota dealers, mini-malls and Taco Bells. And except for a few smog-crusted oleanders on the exit ramp from the 10, and occasional bougainvilleas or rose bushes fenced off in people’s yards, there are hardly any flowers.

The El Monte of Plascencia’s imagination suffers no such scarcity. His novel, The People of Paper, is set in “a town of fur-rows and flowers,” part rancho, part suburb, part Swiftian fan-tasyland. The social scene is dominated by the El Monte Flores, or EMF, “the first street gang born of carnations.” They work in the fields picking flowers, hustling profits out of cockfights and sales of goat milk on the side. They pack carnation knives and are fighting a war against Saturn — but we’ll get to that.
read the rest at L.A. Weekly by Ben Ehrenreich


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