b2s pick: The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno


The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno (W. W. Norton & Company, 2009)

Agent: Massie & McQuilkin


Summary: Jonathan, a paleontologist, is searching in vain for a prehistoric giant squid; his wife, Madeline, an animal behaviorist, cannot explain her failing experiment; their daughter Amelia is a disappointed teenage revolutionary; her younger sister, Thisbe, is on a frustrated search for God; and their grandfather, Henry, wants to disappear, limiting himself to eleven words a day, then ten, then nine – one less each day until he will speak no more. Each fears uncertainty and the possibilities that accompany it. When Jonathan and Madeline suddenly decide to separate, this nuclear family is split and forced to confront its own cowardice, finally coming to appreciate the cloudiness of this modern age.

Notes: Think Wes Anderson, dollhouse people in a dollhouse like a story that pulls apart the great American nuclear family.

A multigeneration family epic in the midst of the parent’s divorce. The father on an unshakeable mission to track down a prehistoric giant squid, but suffer from a phobia of clouds. The mother, an animal behaviorist focused on pigeons. She develops an attachment to these birds and soon falls apart as the birds start destroying each other.

One daughter is an anarchist 16-year old that builds a pipebomb to blow up the school newspaper. The other daughter on a quest for god with incessant praying even as her parents are agnostic. Then there is the grandfather, a WWII vet, who attempts at disappearing by limiting the number of words he speaks every day. Reminds me of the charming dysfunctional family film The Family Stone. A delightful romp through a macabre post-modern family.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s