Monday, June 1, 2009

Joe Meno

Joe Meno's new novel is The Great Perhaps.

From his interview with The Millions:

The Millions: I had this sensation when reading The Great Perhaps that its form was continually unfolding and revealing itself to me. For instance, we've got an elevated third person narrator that also manages to swoop deeply into various characters' perspectives; we've got short narratives about various Casper ancestors; we've got Jonathan's father Henry writing letters to himself about his past - and so on. This sensation of formal evolution was exhilarating, perhaps because it never felt inaccessible. Did you plan to write a book that shifts in these formal ways? And why these particular narrative choices?

Joe Meno: When I first started writing the book I had no idea what it was about or how to tell it, other than I wanted to try and tell the story of a family in the weeks leading up to the 2004 election. After I finished the first draft, I realized the book was about complexity, and the need for it, and how terrified we, as Americans, seemed to have become of anything complicated or uncertain. As I started rewriting and organizing the book I realized that in order to get to the complexity of the character's lives, I would need a structure that was also complex, so I started using different forms for each character as a way to develop who they were - Jonathan, a paleontologist, has various abstracts from his published scientific journals, his wife, Madeline, an animal behaviorist, has her chapters structured like field notes, their daughter Amelia, a budding Marxist, has excerpts from her angry anti-capitalist rants in the school newspaper, their other daughter, Thisbe, has these very violent prayers she has made up, and their grandfather, Henry, has these letters he writes to himself as a way to rid himself of his connections to the past.

TM: There's a notion in your novel that cowardice and failure can be inherited. Do you think the book supports or disproves this theory - or does it do both?

JM: Actually, ....[read on]
Visit Joe Meno's website.

--Marshal Zeringue