Friday, October 15, 2010

REVIEW: The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno

The Great Perhaps
by Joe Meno

Any form of high praise you can think of, I probably think it of Joe Meno's "The Great Perhaps."

But instead of resorting to hyperbole, saying things such as "This is a modern classic" and "Drop what you're reading, pick up this book" (see what I did there?), I'll tackle this from a more personal angle. "The Great Perhaps" has everything that I look for in a book, along with things that I would have been looking for in a book had I known that I could find them. It's one of those books that shows how deeply flawed people are, never shying away from letting our protagonists (all five of them) mess up in catastrophic ways. At the same time, as flawed as these characters are, I grew to love them. Meno's writing is so nuanced, so personal, so human, that he's not only able to portray the way that these five fully fleshed-out flawed characters mish and mash together in the complicated web of their intwined lives, he's able to show the remarkable heroism in the littlest of actions.

I loved the characters. I loved the oh-so-strange style which, with any other story, might have stood out a bit. But with the alternating POV (usually one chapter per character and then over again, sometimes with a short tale of one of their ancestors to break it up), the novel remains fresh throughout. It might be the only book like this where I had absolutely no preference which character's story I was reading. Even in the best written novels with shifting POVs, I find myself picking a favorite, a character to look forward to... but not so much here. Each character is equally fascinating.

I loved it. I was moved by the characters and their twisted, sad, lovely, happy stories. I laughed, I did the thing where I have to pretend I'm having an allergic reaction so the dude across from me on the train doesn't text his girlfriend that the guy across from him is weeping, and I was stimulated. In the intellectual way. Not in my pants.

...or was it in my pants?

But really, it wasn't. This book is wonderful. Smart and literary without being pretentious or dry. Read this, read this, read this.

5 out of 5 squishies.

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