cover image Book of Extraordinary Tragedies

Book of Extraordinary Tragedies

Joe Meno. Akashic, $17.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-63614-061-2

Meno (Between Everything and Nothing) follows two classical music prodigies whose dreams are thwarted in his sincere latest. Aleks, a pianist whose full name is Wolfgang Amadeus Aleksandar Fa, and his older, cellist sister, Isobel, named after mathematician Isobel Loutit, live in Chicago with their younger brother, Daniel, while their depressed mother undergoes dialysis treatments. “At the age of twenty I have come to know that even our best-laid plans are often overthrown,” Isobel narrates, having left behind the cello to pursue math. Further hardships ensue as Aleks develops significant hearing loss. Isobel, meanwhile, gets into MIT, but returns home after her second semester after a mental health episode, then gets pregnant and drops out to raise her daughter, Jazzy, in their parents’ house. With Isobel frequently sidelined by illness, Aleks helps take care of Jazzy. When a potentially cancerous cyst is revealed as the likely cause of Isobel’s health woes, Aleks helps with his sister’s medical bills by selling his beloved piano. Meanwhile, Daniel goes through a deep depression and their mother further loses her grip on reality. Though the family saga is relatively simple, the characters’ passions and their desire for fulfillment is made achingly real. This ought to please Meno’s fans and win him some more. (Sept.)