cover image Marvel and a Wonder

Marvel and a Wonder

Joe Meno. Akashic, $29.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-61775-393-0

The latest by Meno (Office Girl) is a compelling mash-up of magic and the absurd with the grittiness of a world inhabited by punks, thieves, and losers, as a grandfather and his grandson take a road trip through 1990s rural America in search of their stolen horse. The novel opens with the ne’er-do-well daughter of Jim Falls, a Korean War veteran, abandoning him and her 16-year-old son, Quentin, and breaking their hearts. As Falls struggles to raise his grandson on his rural Indiana farm in devastating poverty, while battling his personal demons, he receives a mysterious gift: a pure white quarter horse that immediately gives Jim and Quentin hope for the future. The horse attracts the attention of two troubled meth-dealing brothers, who steal the animal in a violent altercation, only to lose the animal to an even more vicious criminal. As Jim and Quentin drive through a desolate landscape of small-town America in pursuit of their stolen horse, scenes of the two alternate with scenes of the criminals they’re pursuing. This is a provocative reflection on the lives of the disenfranchised in the waning days of the 20th century, with a bittersweet resolution that will resonate with readers. (Sept.)