The residents of the small flower-farming town of El Monte, Calif. — ”people of paper” because they exist only on the page — are engaged in a cosmic battle against the writer who created them and the readers who invade their lives for entertainment. Salvador Plascencia’s surrealistic metanovel, styled à la García Márquez, is a charming meditation on the relationship between reader, author, and story line, filled with mythic imagery (”their necks still cocked to the sky, finally a small piece of Saturn fell: a blue flake floating down. . .”) and unforgettable personalities: a war commander who burns himself to cure his sadness; a Baby Nostradamus whose vast knowledge leaves him as limp as a vegetable; and a woman made of paper, whose sharp, origami edges cut her many lovers with deep gashes. Though El Monte literally hides under tortoise shells to evade voyeuristic gazes, readers will find it hard to turn away from The People of Paper.