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How the Hula Girl Sings
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How the Hula Girl Sings

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  771 Ratings  ·  65 Reviews
A young ex-con in a small Illinois town. A lonely giant with a haunted past. A beautiful girl with a troubled heart. Strange and darkly magical, How the Hula Girl Sings begins exactly where most pulp fiction usually ends, with the vivid episode of the terrible crime itself. Three years later, Luce Lemay, out on parole for the awful tragedy, does his best to finds hope: in ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Akashic Books (first published 2001)
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Marguerite (Lady RH) ❀
Le blues de la Harpie est l'histoire de deux ex-taulards, Luce et Junior, qui reviennent dans leur bled natal pour se refaire une vie, déterminés à rester sur le droit chemin.

C'est une histoire sur la seconde chance, sur la culpabilité, sur le regard que porte une société arriérée et hypocrite sur deux repris de justice. C'est également une histoire d'amour entre Luce et la belle Charlène, la serveuse du diner du coin.

Le blues de la Harpie est poétique et touchant, porté par des personnages émou
Jennifer Bowman
Jun 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
It did some things to my heart
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quand tu entres dans un bouquin avec un petit sourire, c'est souvent bon signe. Là, ce sourire, je l'avais parce que cette vierge que l'on voit sur la couverture, je l'ai connue toute mon enfance. Elle était là, sur la table de chevet près du lit de ma grand-mère, remplie d'eau bénite. Tous les soirs, c'était un peu sur le front, avant de prier. Cette vierge représentait des choses étranges pour moi, quand j'étais petit. Et maintenant, après avoir terminé cette lecture, elle représente d'autant ...more
Brandon Will
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
While the story's plot unfolds in the parts of the country most of us pass through without much thought (the gas sations, the all-night diners) its essence meditates on the hope and longing from the most often unreckognized and unacknowledged parts of our souls.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I love Joe Meno's writing so much!! I do not usually like adult fiction, but I read The Great Perhaps by Joe Meno a couple of years ago and loved it, and own a whim I bought all of his books and this just happened to be the next one I picked up. This book was so thought provoking, and heartbreaking. I liked most of the characters, especially Luce, whom is the main character. There was a morbid side to this story that I enjoyed, and like I said before, very heartbreaking. I enjoyed seeing how the ...more
kori kayleen
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
hella repetitive and completely unrealistic but interesting character takes plus i love jailbirds
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this mostly because my late friend Paul said I should. It was as he said, "A very fine book."
Jan 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
I did not enjoy this book.
Joe Meno's massive repertoire of tics was incredibly distracting, to the point where I couldn't focus on the story. The book is in the first person, so you could, theoretically, pass the tics off as the the character's "voice". But I had the same experience reading The Boy Detective Fails, so I suspect the issues are Meno's, not Luce Lemay's (the narrator/protagonist).
Allow me to nitpick:
First, there are the unnecessary, cliched adjectives. ("Her hair was so curly and
Rachael Quinn
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you've never read a Joe Meno book, I suggest you go out and buy one right now. I would suggest starting with Hairstyles of the Damned, which is what got me started and is also one of my favorite books. It's different from the rest of his work, for sure, but wonderful. I've found each and every one of his books that I've read since to be great, quirky, weird, and somehow heartbreaking.

This is the story of Luce Lemay who is an ex-con returning to his hometown after a three year stay in prison.
Dec 03, 2007 rated it it was ok
Joe Meno's second novel - I read it while taking his fiction class at Columbia College. At this time he hadn't yet wrote Haristyles of the damned and was probably much more accessable. That doesn't make it a good book. I know he went over it for republication, and changed the cover, because he was having issues with his first publisher, but I read the first edition. The cover is blue with a hula girl on it and had nothing to do with the story. The book is similar to Tender as Hellfire, in that i ...more
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this after reading The Boy Detective Fails but I was disappointed. The characters and story (which didn't really get started till about 100 pages in) were interesting but the uneven writing was distracting. All the imagery and motifs (birds, eyes, red hair) felt forced and disconnected from the rest of the book and they added nothing. The point of view shifted in ways that made no sense at all- how did Luce know what Junior was dreaming about?
I think this could have been an
Melinda Chadwick
Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
Let me begin by saying I love Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails. Joe Meno's writing style works so well on thse novels, I think, because he has something very definite to say. I have no idea what he was saying with How the Hula Girl Sings.

Maybe I'm too dumb to catch Meno's oh-so subtle hints. All I know is one minute Luce has to stay and make a stand-- like his very manhood depends on it. Then suddenly (after yet another meaningless and seemingly random incident) it's not such
Shawn Misener
Mar 07, 2013 rated it liked it
A good book, not a great one. It's a quick read, less than 200 pages. At first it has a tender, meditative quality, where we kind of grow to feel for the narrator, who is mild and somewhat reformed ex-con. He falls in love, and the relationship didn't move me one way or another. Near the end the action picks up, giving this novel a semblance of plot. The writing is plain, I imagine because the narrator is kind of a plain, slow dude. What saves this and ultimately makes it a pretty good book is t ...more
Jan 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This story follows the lives of several ex-cons after their releases from prison for various offenses. Their pasts haunt them, causing various complications in their "new" lives, where they discover that the term "free men" can never apply to them. Death permeates the story, in various guises. Even attempts at new life in the form of various unwanted and/or imaginary pregnancies only cause more strife. Not a terribly uplifting look at the harshness of mankind and its tendency to forever judge a ...more
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
I read this one pretty fast but I liked it just the same, I will probably read it again someday. I wanted to get into another Joe Meno book after reading "The Boy Detective Fails" and was not disappointed at all by "How the Hula Girls Sings". Although the events that happen and the kind of world it takes place in is so far off from anything I've experienced, it was difficult for me not to relate to some of the situations and feelings Meno's characters had gone through.

Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dalice, fiction
This book moves quickly, using a short story format to give a portrait of Luce Lemay and the various people he encounters in the small town of La Harpie. I found it dark and sad to the point of being overwhelming. I guess all of Meno's work (at least that I've read) is dark, but this is soul-crushing, without hope.

ETA: This is also pretty graphically violent, which I'm sure didn't help my feelings about it.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was ok

There is only one part of this book that stood out for me and it wouldn't have stood out if I had teeth.

"No dainty gloom could make a body feel more lonesome than missing a tooth. It made me feel improper to smile. Losing that molar over a girl who wouldn't even spare me a kiss made me feel like the imperial king of all fools."

Nothing else really stood out, except some adorable southern slang, which might just be all the True Blood talking.
Amanda Falconer
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love this book with every ounce of my being. The minute I opened it and started reading I fell in love with the story, and the characters. How The Hula Girl Sings is one of those books that you never want to be over. It sucks you in, and you'll never ever want to put it down. I might have to read it again.
Aug 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
Not a bad book, lots of great character development. The author taught a Senior Seminar class that I was required to take in college. He is self-righteors as an instructor, and if you don't buy into his ideals he treats you with disregard. If I would not have been his student I could give this book a higher rating.
Mar 26, 2009 rated it liked it
A good book, kept me entertained while stuck in a small room for days with nothing to do. I learned to not be as judge mental to the ex cons. People make mistakes, or don't at all but get caught up in it. Its a tragedy really. There's a very realistic love story during it all. I can very much relate to! I know i'll end up reading this book again!
Feb 06, 2015 rated it liked it
As usual with Meno, his characters stand out as unique and detailed, but unfortunately the story seems stuck on a single note.

Meno does a great job of building up the life experiences of his characters – they come across as quirky and real. And I do enjoy the ins and outs of his writing style. Yet, in the end, I need something with a little more depth.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
i love meno's writing style. this was a great story about an ex-con trying to find redemption, but it didn't smack you over the head with morality stuff. the love story is bittersweet, the imagery is simple and beautiful. the overall premise is perhaps part of an overdone genre, but meno manages to freshen it up a bit. looking forward to reading more of his work.
Dec 21, 2016 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Free e-book advent calendar from Akashic Books: Download How the Hula Girl Sings for FREE until midnight, December 21, 2016!

Comes in DRM-free mobi or epub, and you don't have to sign in or up for anything.
Caleb Ross
Not exactly a review, but a fun story about the book.

Feb 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jim by: Kudan
Joe Meno is a writer I recommend. This was a good book, although it could have used some editing (for example I think the entire chapter entitled "Stange Customer" could have been left out).

Nevertheless, I like this book and still think Joe Meno great characters.
Feb 01, 2009 rated it liked it
I got this for Xmas and after reading Hairstyles of the Damned, I figured I'd binge on another Meno book. It was better than Hairstyles. It has a sort of neo-noir feel that I can imagine would make a good Coen brother's style film. A quick read but not overwhelmingly fabulous.
Jul 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book. I had read "Hairstyles of the Damned" and decided to read another book of Meno's. While I loved "Hairstyles", I loved this book even more. It's a well-written story that takes you into a mind of a criminal and may even teach you not to be so judgmental.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was just one of those books that is an easy quick read-decent story, writing, and characters, but is also easy to forget. I like Joe Meno's writing, but you can tell this is one of his earlier books.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it it was ok
I really want to love Joe Meno. He is considered the Punk Rock Writer and he has amazing titles and covers for his novels, but I did not get the book. It had moments, and I was interested in it off and on but eventually it was a pretty boring book with a pretty boring ending.
Apr 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Light reading. It's sweet, not sugary sweet, but just a nice little two to three hour read.
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Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, the Great Lakes Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Society of Midland Author's Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Story Prize, he is the author of seven novels and two short story collections. He is also the editor of Chicago Noir: The Classics. A long-time contributor to the seminal c ...more
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“Maybe that's why people have friends at all. Not because they like them so much but because they don't make them feel so much worse.” 16 likes
“Go to a goddamn priest if you wanna be lied to. I've seen too many of your kind slip back inside to fool myself. If you wanna think you're a new man, hell, that's fine. But don't think you're looking any different in anyone else's mind.” 1 likes
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