HOW THE HULA GIRL SINGS by Joe Meno



Book Reviews
HOW THE HULA GIRL SINGS by Joe Meno
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Sep 15, 2005, 01:27

HOW THE HULA GIRL SINGS by Joe Meno; Akashic, 2005 

This a paperback reissue of Joe Meno's first book. It starts with the main character, Luce Lemay, getting out of jail after serving time for vehicular manslaughter. Luce returns to his hometown, not out of any particular desire to go there, but simply because he can't think of anywhere else to go. It's not a good decision.  This story is about people who are unable or unwilling to live past their sins, and the damage they cause themselves and others as a result. The characters are well fleshed out and, with the possible exception of a couple of minor characters, there are no stock figures who are evil simply because the plot requires them to be; and everyone has their own sad story to tell.

While there's a frequent tendency to label young writers as the new so-and-so or the voice of a new generation, this book has a timeless quality and there are no obvious signifiers to place it in any specific time or as the work of a writer of the punk rock generation. Mr. Meno manages the genre well; the language is poetic and delicate but aches all the same. The book slips a bit on the ending, though. Without giving away any of the details, it has a deus ex machina quality that jars against the highly personal tone of everything that went before. However, on the whole, How the Hula Girl Sings shows Joe Meno as a writer who came out of the gates surprisingly well equipped.

-Brett Horn

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