The Great Perhaps
By Joe Meno
(W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393067965, 414pp.)
Publication Date: May 2009
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the June 2009 Indie Notables
“Joe Meno is basically America's best writer right now, even though most folks don't know it yet. In The Great Perhaps, obviously, he's going after the Great American Novel. The Caspers -- whose surname, characteristically, is a gentle allusion -- are a family afraid of clouds, afraid of sexuality, afraid of the world. Meno's best trick is taking cartoon scenarios and filling them to the brim with pathos, but there's also a race with the French to find the biggest living squid and a mysterious man made out of clouds. Joe Meno just keeps outdoing himself.”
-- Imogen Park, Pegasus Downtown, Berkeley, CA
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.