How The Hula Girl Sings
Meno’s 2004 Hairstyles of the Damned was a great ”write what you know” slice of Chicago life. How The Hula Girl Sings is more a ”please keep writing, just easy on the gas” concept piece that’s two parts hard-boiled ex-con fiction and one part trying too hard. Luce Lemay is a suffering romantic, out on parole after nearly three years behind bars (convicted of manslaughter after a drunk-driving accident); his only friend is former prison mate Junior Breen, a giant who writes inadvertent poetry with black letters on the sign outside the Gas-N-Go. Junior’s got a secret that harkens back to Of Mice and Men; sadly, when shifting the book to Junior’s POV, Joe Meno sends this sucker flying like a tooth in a fistfight. But then there are descriptions like this of Luce’s town: ”There was something underneath it all, though. Something like blood or gold.” Wow, can he turn a phrase.