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Tender as Hellfire


Paperback reissue of the debut novel by the author of the best sellers The Boy Detective Fails, How the Hula Girl Sings and Hairstyles of the Damned (more than 70,000 copies sold).

$14.95 $11.21

Available as an e-book for:

What people are saying…

Tender As Hellfire features some of the liveliest characters that one is apt to meet in a contemporary novel. Vividly described . . . Meno’s passionate new voice makes him a writer to watch.”
Publishers Weekly

“Extremely vivid . . . Any number of novels have been written about unhappy childhoods and bizarre families, but this one surpasses many.”
Kirkus Reviews

“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.

An excerpt of the digital edition of Tender as Hellfire is available for free download as part of Akashic’s Joe Meno Digit.

Long before he established himself as an indie-publishing sensation with his hit novels Office GirlHow the Hula Girl Sings, Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails, Joe Meno brought out his debut novel, Tender As Hellfire, with St. Martin’s Press. Here, with a re-edited paperback edition, Meno limns a near-fantastical world of trailer park floozies, broken-down ’76 Impalas, lost glass eyes, and the daily experiences of two boys trying to make sense of their random, sharp lives.

Dough and Pill are brothers bound by more than blood. The anguish of their past, the terror of their present, and the uncertainty of their future all underscore the only truth that is within their grasp: each other. For beneath the cruel surface of their trailer park community lies a menagerie of odd characters, each one strange yet somehow beautiful. Surrounded by the strange and displaced, Dough and Pill must navigate through a world of constant pain and confusion.

Finding beauty in unexpected places and maintaining a reverence for hard-won scars, these two brothers learn, finally, that even broken things can be perfect.


Book Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Published: 8/1/07
  • IBSN: 9781933354309
  • e-IBSN: 9781617750083


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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