I don’t know what they are called, the spaces between seconds– but I think of you always in those intervals. – The People of Paper
Dear Salvador Plascencia,
It has been almost 13 years since my fingers slid across the pages of your one and only novel. I was 16 and knew loss better than most my age. But honestly, when I read your book, I was more interested in the publisher, McSweeney’s.
I thought that I was somehow extra hip by name-dropping The People of Paper in conversation, or the fact that I had seen you do a public reading at Trident Booksellers in Boston. (And I may have lied and told the older guys I met on Myspace that Dave Eggers was also there.)
I read your book for a second time though a year later, and I took my time, and I understood the humiliating loneliness that loss can cause a person.
At the time I related more to Little Merced. I lost my mom a few years prior and was forced to grow up too fast. I hoped I would grow up to be more like Merced De Papel, and I thought often of the passage where men who had been with her only recognized each other by the paper cuts on their lips.
At this point I was so frustrated that you had not started a second book, that I made a collage and I somehow got an intern at McSweeney’s to give me an address to send it. I’m not sure if you got it. Maybe you still have it. In any case, it did not move you to write.
It has been 13 years since your one and only novel was published. I have read it a total of eight times.
When I think about the story now, I think about how it catalogues all the strange rituals we make up when we are heartbroken. The justifications and the curiosities; the bonds we form and the bonds we break.
I know that really, Federico de la Fe was not waging war against the planet Saturn. It was you petitioning yourself to move on… or for her to come back. You are Saturn. And maybe your ritual was writing that book: allowing Merced to eat limes until her teeth rotted, and Federico to collect burns on his skin, and a gang of rough dudes to pick flowers instead of fights.
I hope you find your way back to the written word, because I would be the first to read it, but I’ll keep reading The People of Paper until then.