Tender as Hellfire by Joe Meno
A Novel

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In Tender as Hellfire, first-time novelist Joe Meno limns a near-fantastical world of trailer park floozies, broken-down '76 Impalas, lost glass eyes, and the daily experiences of two boys trying to make sense out of their random, sharp lives. Dough and Pill are brothers bound by more than blood. The anguish of their past, the terror of their present, and the uncertainty of their future all underscore the only truth that is within their grasp: Each other. For beneath the cruel surface of their trailer park community lies a menagerie of odd characters, each one strange yet somehow beautiful. There's Val, the blowsy bottle blonde who shows surprising maternal instincts when the boys need it most. And El Ray del Perdito, the "Undisputed King of the Tango," a widow who dances nightly imagining his wife in his arms, as Dough peers through the window contemplating a love that seems not to die. In Tender as Hellfire it is the unexpected beauty that means the most, and this important literary debut provides all the beauty and pain that we can bear.


About Joe Meno

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Joe Meno is the best-selling author of the novels Hairstyles of the Damned, The Boy Detective Fails, How the Hula Girl Sings, and Tender As Hellfire. He was the winner of the 2003 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction and is a professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Published April 1, 2007 by St. Martin's Press. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Parenting & Relationships. Fiction

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French, their mother’s pothead boyfriend, moves in with them, and soon he and Mrs. Lunt are hosting swingers” parties every Friday, while Dough and Pill find themselves in school with the kind of backwoods girls who can perform sex acts long before they know what menstruation is.

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But in the mind of Dough, it’s a sort of romantic hell, and his voice brought alive by Meno’s prose is so earnest, so aching to feel the connection of those broken souls that surround him, makes us want for the romanticism to win out.

Oct 02 2007 | Read Full Review of Tender as Hellfire: A Novel

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