REVIEW: The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno

REVIEW: The Great Perhaps by Joe MenoThe Great Perhaps by Joe Meno
Published: W. W. Norton & Company (2009), eBook, 416pg
Source: Bought
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism

The sky is falling for the Caspers, a family of cowards. When the parents decide to separate, this family is forced to appreciate the cloudiness of this modern age. (from Amazon)

Okay, true fact: I bought this book solely because of the cover. Well, and the summary– but mostly the cover. I love that cover. That cover is amazing, and it’s such a shame the inside doesn’t match it.

I don’t mind literary fiction. In fact, most of the time I even enjoy it! But what I don’t enjoy is when all literary fiction starts to sound the same. You know what I mean: the lit fic cliches. Cheating spouses. Disaffected modern (Western white) man. Descriptions of sex and/or masturbation that make me want to hurl. These things have become boring to me, and their presence in The Great Perhaps hurt my enjoyment of it big time.

However, The Great Perhaps isn’t a total loss. I really liked how the kids were fully fleshed-out people, and that they did, in fact, act like teenagers instead of miniature adults. I liked that the book had a happy ending. I liked that the beginning of the book reminded me of a Wes Anderson movie, and that if Wes Anderson ever decided to adapt this book to screen it would make for an interesting near-art house film.

The best part of the book was, for me, being able to follow these people around as they went through their lives messing it up and then repairing it at the end. Normally with lit fic books I think the ending leaves you with a bittersweet aftertaste, but with The Great Perhaps all I felt was satisfied.

It’s not my favorite book, and I wish that literary fiction would get some new ideas injected into it once in a while. But it’s not a terrible read. And after the story moved on from Jonathan’s penis and what he was doing with it, I enjoyed following the Caspers through their story.

Read: February 16-18, 2011

5 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno”

  1. I really enjoyed this one and thought it had some very original ideas in it. How many other books have you read about people who can’t look at clouds?! I loved all the different family members and how they all had recognisable styles. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as I did.

    1. The cloud thing was very interesting, yes, especially since it happened because of Jonathan’s family’s history! I did really like the idea that things from the past affect things in the present; sometimes people tend to ignore that aspect of history.

    1. To be fair, his penis is ignored for the majority of the book. It only shows up in the first few chapters, I think to establish character traits or something.

  2. Oh why do modern novels do that ghastly fake-matter-of-fact-earthy thing about bodily functions. I’d far rather writers be fake-coy — also nauseating but less self-satisfied somehow. Ugh.

    Erm, but I still want to read this. I’ve heard so many good things about it!

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