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How the Hula Girl Sings


Paperback reissue of the second novel from the author of the smash hits Hairstyles of the Damned, Tender as Hellfire, and The Boy Detective Fails

$13.95 $10.46

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

“Meno has a poet’s feel for small-town details, life in the joint, and the trials an ex-con faces, and he’s a natural storyteller with a talent for characterization . . . A likable winner that should bolster Meno’s reputation.”
Publishers Weekly

“The author moves the story along at a surprisingly fast and easy pace, never succumbing to the overkill that American gothic tales are often prone to, seeming to take his inspiration equally from the stories of Jim Thompson and the lyrics of Nick Cave. The evil eyes of small-town America seem to peer from every page of Meno’s claustrophobic noir, where the good and the bad are forced down the same violent paths.”
Kirkus Reviews

“An intimate book, wrapped up in the bent logic and lame emotional politics of folks tied by memory and old-school loathings . . . The novel succeeds because Meno gives Luce Lemay the struggling soul of a poet looking to bend anguish into possibility . . . offering what Raymond Carver used to call ‘glimpses’ of what else might be, flashes of another, more comforting brand of reality.”
NewCity Chicago

“Joe Meno writes with the energy, honesty, and emotional impact of the best punk rock.”
Chicago Sun-Times

“Meno’s poetic and visceral style perfectly captures the seedy locale, and he finds the sadness behind violence and the anger behind revenge. Fans of hard-boiled pulp fiction will particularly enjoy this novel.”

“A wonderful accomplishment . . . The power is in the writing. Mr. Meno is a superb craftsman.”
—Hubert Selby, Jr.


Read “Disappears,” Joe Meno’s contribution to Akashic’s Mondays Are Murder series.

Joe Meno answered 16 questions for Akashic’s Literary Lions feature. Read his answers here.

A young ex-con in a small Illinois town. A lonely giant with a haunted past. A beautiful girl with a troubled heart. Strange and darkly magical, How the Hula Girl Sings begins exactly where most pulp fiction usually ends, with the vivid episode of the terrible crime itself. Three years later, Luce Lemay, out on parole for the awful tragedy, does his best to finds hope: in a new job at the local Gas-N-Go; in his companion and fellow ex-con, Junior Breen, who spells out puzzling messages to the unquiet ghosts of his past; and finally, in the arms of the lovely but reckless Charlene. How the Hula Girl Sings is a suspenseful exploration of a country bright with the far-off stars of forgiveness, but still dark with the still-looming shadow of the death penalty.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Published: 9/1/05
  • IBSN: 9781888451832


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.

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