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Marvel, Wonder & Surprise


On this episode of Arts & Letters, we speak with writer Joe Meno.  Published by Akashic Books, his novel,  Marvel and a Wonder, is set in the summer of 1995.

Jim Falls, a grandfather and Korean War veteran, sets out alone to raise his grandson Quentin. 

Marvel and a Wonder is firmly ensconced in place and reveals the wonderment of possibility, which is looming just beyond the next hill. And then the next. . . 

“On that Sunday in July 1995, the grandfather woke early, thinking of the boy. He placed his two feet on the barefloor and stood, his limbs giving some dispute, before dressing in the near darkness. He made his ablutions in the bathroom and then bared his teeth in the mirror. Lean-faced, tall, thinning white hair. Jim Falls, aged seventy-one. He walked down the short hallway to find the boy was, once again, not in bed.”

Author Joe Meno

Joe Meno is a writer who lives in Chicago. He is a professor in the English and Creative Writing department at Columbia College Chicago.

A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Great Lakes Book Award, and a finalist for the Story Prize, he is the author of seven novels: Marvel and a Wonder, Office GirlThe Great PerhapsThe Boy Detective FailsHairstyles of the DamnedHow the Hula Girl Sings, and Tender as Hellfire.

His short story collections are Bluebirds Used to Croon in the Choir and Demons in the Spring.

His short fiction has been published in a number of venues including McSweeney'sOne StorySwinkLITTriQuarterlyOther VoicesGulf Coast, and broadcast on NPR's Selected Shorts. He was a contributing editor to Punk Planet, the seminal underground arts and politics magazine.

His non-fiction has appeared in The New York TimesChicago Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Reader. His forthcoming nonfiction book, Between Everything and Nothing, will be published in 2019.

Husband and wife duo, Michael & Ashley Shackelford.
Husband and wife duo, Michael & Ashley Shackelford.
Musical Artist and Activist, Cuuk

Thank you voice actors Jim Metzger, William Wagner, Roger Glasgow and Tyrone Whitmore as Quentin. 

Thanks to singers and songwriters Cuuk, Harry Blanton, Michael and Ashley Shackleford and their band Galactic Engineers of Magnetic Sound.

A special thanks to featured artist, Grace Askew,  whose music provides much of the backdrop for this episode.

Grace Askew is an incessant songwriter. Each and every day of 2018 she has written a new song and performed it live for her fans on Facebook and Instagram.  The songs that appear in this episode were written during this 365 day challenge.

Grace Askew
Singer-songwriter, Grace Askew.

Grace was a contestant on Season 4 of NBC’s The Voice. She has won numerous songwriting awards, including Unsigned Only (First Place, Americana, 2017), the International Songwriting Competition (First Place, Americana, 2016), and the John Lennon Songwriting Contest (2014 Grand Prize, Folk). PBS featured her on the show Sun Sessions.

Listen to the song "The Cowboy Kind" by Grace Askew

Listen to the song "Go Together" by G.E.M.S.

Thank you to Stickyz Rock ‘N’ Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

Generous funding for this episode was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Contact Arts & Letters Radio at or via phone at 501-569-8485.  Our mailing address is:  Arts & Letters Radio |  KUAR 89.1  | 5820 Asher Avenue, Suite 400  | Little Rock, AR   72204.

Executive Producer & Host: J. Bradley Minnick Producer: Mary Ellen Kubit Mastered by Adam Simon of Simon Sound Services Chicago Tape Sync Recording by Barb Anguino

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