Plascencia: Traditionalist or Innovator?

For my final paper, I plan to write about Salvador Plascencia’s novel People of Paper. I want to concentrate on Plascencia’s internal struggle between being traditionalist and innovate while focusing on Barthe’s article The Death of the Author. Barthes states that the author must remove him or herself from the work in order for the reader to be born. To do so the author must allow for the words in the work to perform for themselves, and he or she must be born simultaneously with the work as opposed it being a retelling of the author’s past. Although People of Paper breaks the rules of conventional codex novels with its various blacked out passages, cut out names, and sideways text, Plascencia is traditionalist in the sense that he embraces the author, Plascencia himself, as opposed to suppressing him. Whereas Barthes writes that the destination of the modern novel can no longer be personal – in People of Paper, Plascencia is quick to personalize the novel by not only including himself, but also by basing the background of the story on his own Mexican heritage and experiences of living in El Monte, California. Whether Plascencia’s relationship with Liz and Cameroon is fictitious or not, Plascencia still brings enough of his personal life into the novel that he is able to personalize it. Aside from not removing himself from the work, Plascencia is also very traditional in how he describes women and the Hispanic community more specifically Mexican-Americans.

Once the author in a novel is identified the text is “explained”, therefore, when we discover that Salvador Plascencia is Saturn suddenly we come to understand that the novel is based on the pursuit of the reader to liberate him or herself from the author. At the same time by not including a deeper meaning into the text either with the plot or the mechanical turtles, Plascencia “liberates what may be called an anti-theological activity.” Along with Plascencia’s presence in the novel, I want to further explore readers’ mission to free themselves from the author.  Two of the ways of achieving this is through post-print works such as Interactive Fiction and Interactive YouTube videos where users have the opportunity to interact with the work and become his or her own author.