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News & Features » July 2015 » Joe Meno Talks Marvel and a Wonder to Publishers Weekly!

Joe Meno Talks Marvel and a Wonder to Publishers Weekly!

Joe Meno, best-selling author of Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails, recently spoke with Claire Kirch at Publishers Weekly about his inspiration for his forthcoming novel Marvel and a Wonder, his writing process, and more! See below for an excerpt, and click here to read the full feature.

Excerpt from “A Horse with No Name: PW Talks to Joe Meno”:

MarvelandaWonderAccording to Joe Meno, his six previous novels have little in common except that they are all character driven and all “started out small. For me,” he says, “everything starts out as a short story”. Besides his breakout novel, Office Girl (Akashic, 2012), Meno has also published two collections of short fiction: Demons in the Spring (Akashic, 2008) and Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir (Triquarterly, 2005).

His latest novel, Marvel And A Wonder (Akashic, Sept.) was originally a short story about the relationship between a conservative grandfather and his biracial grandson and how that relationship evolves over the course of one momentous day. After writing it, Meno realized that there was more to the relationship than could be contained in a twenty-page story and he spent five years expanding it into Marvel And A Wonder.

It makes sense that Meno cites William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez as his most significant literary influences in writing this tale, a heaping of gritty realism tinged with magic. In Marvel, Jim Falls, a widowed Korean War vet and struggling farmer in southern Indiana, tries to raise his biracial taciturn sixteen-year-old grandson, Quentin, while staving off poverty when a magnificent white quarter horse is delivered to him pursuant to the last will and testament of a millionaire whom he’s never met. The horse changes everything for Jim and Quentin, as well as for practically every human with which it comes into contact over the course of the story.

When the animal is stolen, Jim and Quentin embark on a road trip through rural America circa 1995 in an attempt to recover the horse from, initially, the two meth-addicted brothers who stole it, and, subsequently, from a ruthless sociopath who ends up with the horse after it’s passed through several hands.

Marvel And A Wonder was inspired by the evolution in the past two decades of “what it means to be a man in America,” Meno, forty-one, says, noting that there’s been a “total shift” in what is considered acceptable masculine behavior. Past generations of American fathers “didn’t play with their kids and didn’t change diapers,” while men now are expected to actively participate in child-rearing responsibilities. “That shift in what it means to be a man wasn’t accidental,” Meno says, “It was a real deliberate social shift in one generation. I’m fascinated by that.”

Posted: Jul 29, 2015

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