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Children who anesthetize - and dress up - small wild animals in an ill-fated attempt to cheer their grieving mother; childhood friends who ritually return every year to the site of their near-kidnapping; an awkward teen trying to find his place among the cultural ruins of Greek Mythology Camp; brothers brought together, if not by mutual understanding, by a strange need to steal airport baggage: these are some of the characters who inhabit - and invariably tell - the stories in Joe Meno's "Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir". Oddballs and charmers and would-be lovers, they are souls not so much lost as wandering, looking for something better, almost getting laid, trying to explain or, if all else fails, to entertain - and this they unfailingly do. Rarely has fiction so understated produced such hilarity and heartbreak. Novelist, music journalist, and playwright Meno writes squarely in the American tradition of wringing large effects from small change, revealing the subtlety in the broad stroke, and conveying complexity with seeming simplicity. Celebrated for its "unflinching honesty" (Entertainment Weekly) and for its "poetic and visceral style" (Booklist), his work resonates with the unmistakable magic and curious mystery of modern life.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780810151673
ISBN-10: 0810151677
Format: Hardback
(165mm x 165mm x 19mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Triquarterly Books
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
Publish Date: 15-Nov-2006
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » A jazzy collection of short stories and little moments from genre-hopping Meno (Hairstyles of the Damned, 2004, etc.). Meno ensures from the first that readers are in odd territory, starting off with "The Use of Medicine," about a pair of kids using an old bottle of belladonna and a hypodermic they find among their father's medical supplies to drug little animals. Surreality rears its head in "In the Arms of Someone You Love," set in revolutionary Cuba, where a man worries about losing his wife to a dashing magician. The city erupts in violence, and the man makes a devilish barter for the sake of love, a move that takes this tale out of the realm of magical realism and into that of high romantic fantasy. More mundane matters prevail in such stories as "Mr. Song," which portrays a cad who pays the aged crooner in the apartment next door to sing ballads through the thin walls as a way of setting the mood, and "I'll Be Your Sailor," in which a schlemiel carries on a benighted affair with a woman in his apartment building who works at a themed fast-food restaurant and has a hockey-loving brute for an uncaring husband. The collection's highlight is the hilarious "A Trip to Greek Mythology Camp," a painfully comic scenario about a summer camp full of socially awkward kids who assume that in numbers they will find acceptance. Musical tales of love and loss with hardly a word wasted. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Joe Meno

Joe Meno is the author of the novels Hairstyles of the Damned (Akashic/Punk Planet, 2004), which was a Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection for 2004, How the Hula Girl Sings (HarperCollins, 2001), and Tender as Hellfire (St. Martin's, 1999) and of an online serial, The Secret Hand. Winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for Fiction, Meno lives in Chicago, teaches at Columbia College, and is a columnist for Punk Planet.

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