How the Hula Girl Sings

How the Hula Girl Sings

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

"A wonderful accomplishment. . . . The power is in the writing. Mr. Meno is a superb craftsman."—Hubert Selby Jr."The author moves the story along at a surprisingly fast and easy pace. The evil eyes of small-town America seem to peer from every page of Meno's claustrophobic noir, where the good and the bad are forced down the same violent paths."—Kirkus Reviews"Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock."—Jim DeRogatis, pop music critic, Chicago Sun-Times"A likable winner that should bolster Meno's reputation." —Publishers Weekly"Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock." —Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times"Fans of hard-boiled pulp fiction will particularly enjoy this novel." —BooklistA young ex-con in a small Illinois town. A lonely giant with a haunted past. A beautiful girl...
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Chicago Noir

Chicago Noir

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

Although Los Angeles may be considered the most quintessentially "noir" American city, this volume reveals that pound-for-pound, Chicago has historically been able to stand up to any other metropolis in the noir arena.Classic reprints from: Harry Stephen Keeler, Sherwood Anderson, Max Allan Collins, Richard Wright, Nelson Algren, Fredric Brown, Patricia Highsmith, Barry Gifford, Stuart M. Kaminsky, Libby Fischer Hellmann, Sara Paretsky, Percy Spurlark Parker, Sandra Cisneros, Hugh Holton, and Stuart Dybek.From the introduction by Joe Meno:"More corrupt than New York, less glamorous than LA, Chicago has more murders per capita than any other city its size. With its sleek skyscrapers bisecting the fading sky like an unspoken threat, Chicago is the closest metropolis to the mythical city of shadows as first described in the work of Chandler, Hammett, and Cain. Only in Chicago do instituted color lines offer generation after generation of poverty and...
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Demons in the Spring

Demons in the Spring

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

"An inspired collection of 20 stories, brilliant in its command of tone and narrative perspective...Creativity and empathy mark the collection . . . Illustrations enhance the already vivid storytelling."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"Spanning worlds, generations, cultures and environments, each of Meno's short stories in this stellar collection explores depression, loneliness and insanity in the world . . ."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)"Eclectic, funny, constantly surprising—these are the things a short story collection should be allowed to be, and Joe Meno's Demons in the Spring absolutely is . . . a rich, unforgettable stew of a book."—Dave EggersThe limited-edition hardcover of Demons in the Spring was a finalist for the 2009 Story Prize, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2008, a Time Out Chicago Best Book of 2008, and it drew starred reviews in Publishers...
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Hairstyles of the Damned

Hairstyles of the Damned

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

From Publishers WeeklyMeno (How the Hula Girl Sings) gives his proverbial coming-of-age tale a punk-rock edge, as 17-year-old Chicagoan Brian Oswald tries to land his first girlfriend and make it through high school. Brian loves video games, metal music and his best friend, Gretchen, an overweight, foul-mouthed, pink-haired badass famous for beating up other girls. Gretchen, meanwhile, loves the Ramones and the Clash and 26-year-old "white power thug" Tony Degan. Gretchen keeps Brian at bay even as their friendship starts to bloom into a romance, forcing him to find comfort with the fetching but slatternly Dorie. Typical adolescent drama reigns: Brian's parents are having marital problems, he needs money to buy wheels ("I needed a van because, like Mike always said, guys with vans always got the most trim, after the guys who could grow mustaches"), he experiments with sex and vandalism. Meno ably explores Brian's emotional uncertainty and his poignant youthful search for meaning, both in music and in his on-again, off-again situation with Gretchen; his gabby, heartfelt and utterly believable take on adolescence strikes a winning chord. Meno also deals honestly with teenage violence—though Gretchen's fights have a certain slapstick quality, Brian's occasional bouts of anger and destruction seem very real. He's a sympathetic narrator and a prime example of awkward adolescence, even if he doesn't have much of a plot crafted around him. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. From School Library JournalAdult/High School - Set in Chicago's South Side in the early 1990s, this novel follows a year in the life of high school student Brian Oswald. His friend Gretchen, a heavyset, fight-provoking, punk-music fan, travels with him through the adolescent world of shopping malls, music stores, and suburban streets. And Brian is madly in love with her. Unfortunately, Gretchen loves Tony, a 20-something white-power hooligan who hangs out in arcades to pick up impressionable high school girls. Brian spends the first half of the book trying to build up enough courage to ask Gretchen out. When he makes his feelings known, their relationship is severed. For a time, he moves on and away from her. Trouble between his parents and issues of peer pressure flesh out the skeleton of this work. Written as a first-person narrative, the novel brings Brian to life by making full use of those colorful expletives and sexual jokes that high school boys love so much. The teen is not a nerd or a jock, but lives in a space between those stereotypes. Yet he struggles desperately to find his niche, circulating from cliques as diverse as the D&D geeks to the hyper-violent skinheads. Meno plays with music in a fashion reminiscent of Nick Hornby's High Fidelity (Penguin, 1996). The story winds its way back to Gretchen, who inadvertently leads Brian to realize that punk, too, is its own form of a fabricated identity. In the end he learns that he is Brian Oswald - and he's okay with that. - Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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The Boy Detective Fails

The Boy Detective Fails

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

In this "charming" and melancholic novel, a former child sleuth "investigates the hard-to-crack case of Lost Innocence" (Entertainment Weekly). A Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist Book of the Year In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes. Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy befriends two lonely, extraordinary children—one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, he...
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Office Girl

Office Girl

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

"Meno has constructed a snow-flake delicate inquiry into alienation and longing. Illustrated with drawings and photographs and shaped by tender empathy, buoyant imagination, and bittersweet wit, this wistful, provocative, off-kilter love story affirms the bonds forged by art and story." --Booklist (starred review)"The talented Chicago-based Meno has composed a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999 . . . A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending." --Kirkus Reviews "High on quirk and hipster cred." --Publishers Weekly , "Pick of the Week""Meno's book is an honest look at the isolation of being a creative person in your twenties living in a city." --Daily Beast , "3 Must-Read Offbeat Novels""Along with PBRs, flannels, and thick-framed glasses, this Millennial Franny and Zooey is an instant hipster staple." --Marie Claire "Gorgeously packaged, it's like a Meno box set 15 years in the making." --TimeOut Chicago "In this geeky-elegant novel, Meno transforms wintery Chicago into a wondrous crystallization of countless dreams and tragedies, while telling the stories of two derailed young artists, two wounded souls, in cinematic vignettes that range from lushly atmospheric visions to crack-shot volleys of poignant and funny dialogue." --Kansas City Star "Meno supplies an off-kilter, slightly inappropriate answer to the Hollywood rom-com. Meno is a deft writer. The dialogue in Office Girl is often funny, the pacing quirky, and some of its quick, affecting similes remind me of Lorrie Moore." --Chicago Reader "A charming and unpretentious hipster love story destined to be the next cult classic." --Flavorwire "Shelves neatly into the anti-establishment, punk-rock canon Meno created with books like his breakthrough, Hairstyles of the Damned." --Onion A.V. Club "Today, when it seems that most media is hellbent on constantly reflecting on and reinventing our childhood and adolescence, it's refreshing to read a novel that can be nostalgic without being ironic." --Grantland "Office Girl is packed with whimsy and soft terror ... Meno does good here." --Anobium "Joe Meno's Office Girl draws the awkward love story of two twenty-somethings with grace and empathy in this exceptional novel." --Largehearted Boy "Office Girl might be Joe Meno's breakthrough novel . . . his crystalline prose has a chance to shine." --The Stranger "Wistful, heartbreaking, and melancholy, a sneakily tight manuscript that gets better and better the farther you read." --Chicago Center for Literature and Photography "Fresh and sharply observed, Office Girl is a love story on bicycles, capturing the beauty of individual moments and the magic hidden in everyday objects and people. Joe Meno will make you stop and notice the world. And he will make you wonder."--Hannah Tinti, author of The Good ThiefNo one dies in Office Girl. Nobody talks about the international political situation. There is no mention of any economic collapse. Nothing takes place during a World War.Instead, this novel is about young people doing interesting things in the final moments of the last century. Odile is a lovely twenty-three-year-old art-school dropout, a minor vandal, and a hopeless dreamer. Jack is a twenty-five-year-old shirker who's most happy capturing the endless noises of the city on his out-of-date tape recorder. Together they decide to start their own art movement in defiance of a contemporary culture made dull by both the tedious and the obvious. Set in February 1999—just before the end of one world and the beginning of another—Office Girl is the story of two people caught between the uncertainty of their futures and the all-too-brief moments of modern life.Joe Meno's latest novel also features black-and-white illustrations by renowned artist Cody Hudson and photographs by visionary photographer Todd Baxter.
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Marvel and a Wonder

Marvel and a Wonder

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

"Faulkner-ian epic for the contemporary age....[Meno] draws on the grave themes and austere styles of writers like Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell to offer a mix of biblical allegories, tinder-dry prose, and noble characters trying to survive in a wretched world....The novel's prose is marvelous is its spare, convincing grit while the story's themes of family, redemption, sacrifice, and faith echo the plays of Sam Shepard at times....A grandiose, atmospheric portrait of Middle America in all its damaged glory."—Kirkus Reviews"The latest by Meno is a compelling mash-up of magic and the absurd with the grittiness of a world inhabited by punks, thieves, and losers, as a grandfather and his grandson take a road trip through 1990s rural America in search of their stolen horse....This is a provocative reflection on the lives of the disenfranchised in the waning days of the 20th century, with a bittersweet resolution that will resonate with...
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Tender as Hellfire

Tender as Hellfire

Joe Meno

Literature & Fiction

“Features some of the liveliest characters that one is apt to meet in a contemporary novel. Vividly described.”—Publishers Weekly“Extremely vivid. . . . Any number of novels have been written about unhappy childhoods and bizarre families, but this one surpasses many.”—Kirkus ReviewsJoe Meno limns a near-fantastical world of trailer park floozies, broken-down ’76 Impalas, lost glass eyes, and the daily experiences of two boys trying to make sense of their random, sharp lives.Joe Meno is the author of the novels Hairstyles of the Damned, The Boy Detective Fails,and How the Hula Girl Sings. He was the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.From Publishers WeeklyA trailer park in the Plains town of Tenderloin is the setting of this crusty coming-of-age debut, which features some of the liveliest characters just this side of believable that one is apt to meet in a contemporary novel. The first-person narrator is a moral but susceptible 11-year-old called Dough, who lusts after his fifth-grade teacher and idolizes his trouble-making older brother, Pill-Bug. The boys, who are new to the town and shamed by the stigma of living in a trailer, were named by a father who wanted them to remain tough and who ended up dying while smuggling cigarettes along a Texas highway. Their mother and her new boyfriend, French, are low-life swingers, allowing the siblings to spend nights with Val, who entertains a slew of men but whom Dough worships as a virginal Madonna. Dough's own adoring friend is Lottie, a slightly deranged girl who offers Dough a gift of one of her taxidermist father's specimens; meanwhile, Pill-Bug earns a special affection from Lunna, a high school's floozy. Each character is vividly described (sometimes exhaustingly so) in one vignette or several, as are Chief, the Native American gas station owner who sells Dough cigarettes and tells a story of male initiation; Shilo, the fight-scarred dog with three legs and one eye; and El Rey del Perdito, the "King of the Tango," who dances all night to avoid mourning his dead wife. Often charming if sometimes overwritten, the novel is full of labyrinthine explanations and bizarre details delivered in poetic language. Meno's passionate new voice makes him a writer to watch. Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. From Kirkus ReviewsA rambling and oddly good-natured debut describing a childhood spent on the wrong side of the tracks. Any number of novels have been written about unhappy childhoods and bizarre families, but this one surpasses manyat least on the weirdo scale. Narrated by Dough Lunt, its a recollection of his first years in the aptly named western town of Tenderloin, where he and his brother Pill were moved when their mothers boyfriend found work at the local meat-packing factory. The Lunt boys, having grown up in Duluth, are not quite prepared for life among the rednecks, and the trailer park where their mother deposits them doesnt exactly introduce them to the cream of Tenderloin society. French, their mothers pothead boyfriend, moves in with them, and soon he and Mrs. Lunt are hosting swingers parties every Friday, while Dough and Pill find themselves in school with the kind of backwoods girls who can perform sex acts long before they know what menstruation is. Still fairly innocent at the age of 11, Dough is nevertheless well accustomed to the sight of grownups copulating on sofas and pulling knives on their girlfriendsand, eventually, he takes up religion in a half-hearted attempt to put order and a modicum of decency into his life. Meno arranges his tale episodically, concentrating on specific characters or incidents in each chapter (the tango dancer who moves into the trailer next door, or the birthday party spoiled by bickering relatives). Although extremely vivid, it suffers badly from this arrangement, which provides no central narrative to make its parts cohere. The final effect is somewhat pointless. Less than the sum of its parts, Menos story would have made a few good sketches. As a novel, though, it has the stilted, heavy feel of a wingless bird trying to fly. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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