“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.” —Booklist
A young ex-con in a small Illinois town. A lonely giant with a haunted past. A beautiful girl with a troubled heart. Strange and darkly magical, How the Hula Girl Sings begins exactly where most pulp fiction usually ends, with the vivid episode of the terrible crime itself. Three years later, Luce Lemay, out on parole for the awful tragedy, does his best to finds hope: in a new job at the local Gas-N-Go; in his companion and fellow ex-con, Junior Breen, who spells out puzzling messages to the unquiet ghosts of his past; and finally, in the arms of the lovely but reckless Charlene. How the Hula Girl Sings is a suspenseful exploration of a country bright with the far-off stars of forgiveness and dark with the still-looming shadow of the death penalty.
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Joe Meno is an adjunct professor in the creative writing department of Columbia College. His first novel, Tender as Hellfire, was published to great critical acclaim in 1999. He writes serially for Playboy.com and lives in Chicago, Illinois.From Publishers Weekly:
Luce Lemay returns to his hometown in Illinois after serving time for accidentally running down a young mother's infant daughter, but hope turns to tragedy in Meno's (Tender as Hellfire) moving second novel. Lemay is a poetic ex-con who often waxes lyrical about his remorse for his crime as well as the tragic character flaws of his equally romantic best friend from the joint, a troubled giant named Junior Breen. Lemay is also a hard worker who wants to make good, though, and events take a positive turn when he gets a job at a local gas station and meets beautiful young Charlene Dulaire, a waitress at a diner. Their romance sours when Dulaire's ex-fianc‚, a brute named Earl Peet, attacks Lemay and threatens to run him out of town. Meno pens some wonderful scenes of courtship and setbacks in the course of love, and he also does some nice work bringing Breen to life and exploring his friendship with Lemay. The tragic confrontation between convicts and townies is somewhat predictable, but Meno gets considerable mileage from the give and take among Lemay's elderly boss and the two young ex-cons as they care for one another and try to overcome their earlier mistakes. Meno has a poet's feel for small-town details, life in the joint and the trials an ex-con faces, and he's a natural storyteller with a talent for characterization. The novel has some mawkish moments and certainly many disturbing ones, but overall it's a likable winner that should bolster Meno's reputation. National advertising; Midwest author appearances.
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