Joe Meno
Tuesday, June 9, 2009, 7:00 P.M.

reading from

The Great Perhaps

published by W.W. Norton

A breakout new novel from the critically acclaimed novelist and playwright Joe Meno, author of Hairstyles of the Damned. The sky is falling for the Caspers, a family of cowards: for Jonathan, a paleontologist, searching in vain for a prehistoric giant squid; for his wife, Madeline, an animal behaviorist with a failing experiment; for their daughter, Amelia, a disappointed teenage revolutionary; for her younger sister, Thisbe, on a frustrated search for God; and for grandfather Henry, who wants to disappear, limiting himself to eleven words a day, then ten, then nine… Each fears uncertainty and the possibilities that accompany it. When Jonathan and Madeline suddenly decide to separate, this nuclear family is split, each member forced to confront his or her own cowardice, finally coming to appreciate the cloudiness of the modern age. With wit and humor, The Great Perhaps presents a revealing look at anxiety, ambiguity, and the need for complicated answers to complex questions.

The Great Perhaps is a darkly funny, lyrical, and shrewdly observant chronicle of a family on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Joe Meno has the rare ability to evoke mid-life melancholy and teenage angst with equal authority.

—Tom Perrotta, author of Election and The Abstinence Teacher


A terrible fear of clouds, an obscure search for giant squid and a bomb-building teenage girl: Joe Meno has imagination, humor and the rare ability to make characters seem as near as your own family—sometimes almost too close for comfort. An intriguing and heartfelt book.

—Lydia Millet, author of How the Dead Dream

I think The Great Perhaps is the wisest, most humane and transcendent novel on the contemporary family since The Corrections... A marvelous book.

--Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting and Crime


Joe Meno's fiction has it all--humor and heart, moral gravitas, and a formal playfulness that catches you pleasantly by surprise.

—Ed Park, author of Personal Days

Joe Meno is a novelist, writer of short fiction,  playwright, and music journalist based in Chicago. He is the author of Tender as Hellfire, How the Hula Girl Sings, Hairstyles of the Damned, Bluebirds Used to Croon the Choir, The Boy Detective Fails, and Demons in the Spring.