Marvel and a Wonder
Joe Meno (Author)
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September 01, 2015
5.9 X 1.1 X 8.3 inches | 0.9 pounds
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About the Author
Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. He is the winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Great Lakes Book Award, and a finalist for the Story Prize. He is the editor of Chicago Noir: The Classics and the author of two short story collections and multiple novels including the best sellers Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails; Office Girl; and his latest novel, Marvel and a Wonder. He is a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago.
"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 readers."
--Publishers Weekly "A remarkable book; Meno deftly turns the American Dream onto its ass but displays facets of Americans that are so true that it will make your heart hurt."
--Library Journal, Books for Dudes column Selected as a Midwest Connections pick by the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association "While Meno writes in lush sentences, evoking authors like William Faulkner, his plot feels akin to Cormac McCarthy....A fitting addition to the canon of books about hard men and their relationship to nature. Discover: A pastoral novel of family, desperation and a horse like no other."
--Shelf Awareness "[Marvel and a Wonder] is a unique take on the generation gap between a Korean war vet and his sixteen-year-old grandson, exploring themes like faith, sacrifice and family...With a bit of crime, tragedy and even love."
--MTV News "The book draws comparisons to William Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, and Toni Morrison. It's at once a story about two people and an exploration of the past, present, and future of the country....As the fate of the horse, of Jim Falls, of Quentin--of America!--becomes more perilous, the book picks up speed. The story is operating on different levels--as a family story, an epic, and in the end a page-turner--but they remain skillfully balanced."
--Chicago Reader "An emotionally honest exploration of the human need for connection."
--Newcity "In telling the story of Jim and Quentin, Meno broadens the conversation about the winners and losers of the global economy....Both [protagonist] Jim Falls and Marvel and a Wonder seem like a reimagining of those great old depression era novels by John Steinbeck and William Faulkner and Meridel Le Sueur. The book makes visible the typically invisible victims of unjust economic policies. It makes these characters people--flawed and beautiful."
--The Millions "Joe Meno's latest novel is an incredible modern myth involving horses, a dying agrarian economy, and the idea of American masculinity, and it also happens to be the most spot-on depiction of north central Indiana in the mid-'90s I've ever read."
--The Millions, Janet Potter's A Year in Reading "The always-wonderful Joe Meno is back with a many layered tale....This is a departure from Meno's usual novels, and borders on Cormac McCarthy territory."
--Book Riot "I've long adored Joe Meno's novels, which seamlessly blend magical realism with the grittiest elements of reality....If you like novels that are both moving and exciting, then don't miss this one."
--Literary Hub, The Great Booksellers Fall Preview of 2015 (selected by John Cleary from Papercuts J.P.) "Meno's greatest gift is his love and compassion for his characters....A whole range of Southern lit influences pervade [Marvel and a Wonder], from icons like William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor to more contemporary writers like Donna Tartt and Cormac McCarthy. He evokes the landscape in terse, no-frills language, and peppers it with menace. He confronts racism through the boy, whose father is black. The journey harrows their spirits. Meno, in other words, continues to grow as a writer, though his sensibility remains intact. The characters here are once again the engines of the book--or, more aptly, it is Meno's interest and unwavering sympathy for them that drives it."
--Literary Hub, feature on Joe Meno "I've always been impressed by Meno's ability to create true-to-life characters packaged with a high or sly humor. His latest novel, though, enters new territory with a much more serious tone, delivering a crime story with some very dark deeds, callousness, a little heart, and a bounty of beautiful writing."
--Literary Hub, Interview with a Bookstore: The Mysterious Bookshop (selected by manager Ian Kern) "Joe Meno's hauntingly lovely, richly detailed Marvel and a Wonder examines the contentious and, eventually, tender relationship between seventy-one-year-old widower Jim Falls and his teenage grandson Quentin."
--Hypertext "Compelling....A character-driven story of loss in America's heartland. It's a story of flawed characters and a landscape that, despite occasional beauty, has been used up and passed over....It's a book that despite its damaged characters, consistently reaches for excellence: a wonder."
--Foreword Reviews "Meno has written a book that honors the values of old men and exposes their prejudices, where the young transcend their apathy to claim a fractured future."
--Foreword Reviews, Reviewers' Choice: Our 2015 Favorites "Meno's stylistic inventiveness, humane curiosity and fictional range are always impressive."
--Newcity, Fall Lit Preview 2015 "In this ambitious epic, a man and his grandson embark on a cross-country journey to find a missing horse."
--Chicago Magazine "Wonder explodes into a breakneck thriller as grandfather and grandson try to recover the horse, and run into characters even more nefarious than the horse thief."
--Capital Times "A Moby Dick for Middle America."
--Wisconsin State Journal "[The novel] pays testament to human persistence, in the persons of grandfather and grandson, as they carry on to retrieve what's theirs. Meno excels at setting a scene, and most chapters begin with a short, single paragraph, almost poetic in its description of place. One particularly vivid scene captures [one character] crawling around in broken glass on his kitchen floor, scratching up change. It's this kind of tragic vision that makes Marvel And A Wonder something of a miracle."
--Santa Fe New Mexican "The grit is palpable in Joe Meno's Marvel and a Wonder....reminiscent of Gran Torino....in the same vein as Cormac McCarthy."
--Des Moines City View "Though Meno crafts a dramatic arc that is both compelling and approachable, his true stride is found in the way small moments are expanded to feel monumental through simple dialogue or the way Quentin actively watches his grandfather breathe, just to make sure he is still alive....Though characters have a layer of complexity elevated above everyday experiences, Meno includes small moments of intense, capital H humanity."
--Columbia Chronicle "In his gritty new novel, Marvel and a Wonder, Chicago writer Joe Meno has reinvented himself again, exploring the haunting human and natural landscapes of the rural Midwest in the vein of the Coen brothers' Fargo and No Country for Old Men....Bleak and beautiful."
--Gapers Block "I had high hopes for Marvel and a Wonder, but it's not the novel I was hoping for--it's better....In the dark corners of this world, Meno finds light and beauty to suddenly thrust before readers....Meno's skillful interplay of light and shadow propels the plot through what could be, in another writer's hands, dozens of pages of monotonous driving, and it keeps the book on the palatable side of the Western Noir genre for readers who can't stomach Cormac McCarthy. To dismiss it as just genre writing, however, is a great mistake. Not only is it too beautiful for that, it is also gloriously woven through with loose ends, unanswered questions, and ambiguity."
--Books & Whatnot "Winner of the Discover Great New Writers Award and the Nelson Algren Award, among other honors, Meno can be entertainingly outré. This story of a man and his grandfather hunting for their stolen horse is also affecting."
--Library Journal, Barbara Hoffert's Prepub Alert "Just finished Marvel and a Wonder...It's all I did for two days. Amazing."
--Susan Straight, author of A Million Nightingales "Marvel and a Wonder is such a tender love story. The love of an irascible grandfather for his baffling grandson; the love for a mysterious horse; the love for a country that no longer seems to love us back. Joe Meno writes with poise and wit and stunning amounts of empathy. What a beautiful story. What a lovely book."
--Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver "Both sprawling and intimate, Marvel and a Wonder is a vivid portrait of Heartland America, and infuses its array of characters with humor, empathy, and insight. I've long been an admirer of Joe Meno's work, and this is his most ambitious book yet."
--Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply Praise for Joe Meno: "A beguiling and slyly disquieting storyteller...Meno transforms wintery Chicago into a wondrous crystallization of countless dreams and tragedies, while telling the stories of two derailed young artists...poignant and funny."
--Kansas City Star on Office Girl "The wisest, most humane and transcendent novel on the contemporary family since The Corrections...A marvelous book."
--Irvine Welsh on The Great Perhaps