Joe Meno, Micky Hess & Gretchen Kalwinski at Quimby’s!

Sep ’07
7:00 pm

Joe Meno, Micky Hess & Gretchen Kalwinski at Quimby’s!

Friday, Sep 14th, 7:00 PM

Long before he established himself as an indie-publishing sensation with his hit novels Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails, Joe Meno brought out his debut novel, Tender As Hellfire, with St. Martin’s Press. Here, with a re-edited paperback edition, 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 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. Surrounded by the strange and displaced, Dough and Pill must navigate through a world of constant pain and confusion. Finding beauty in unexpected places and maintaining a reverence for hard-won scars, these two brothers learn, finally, that even broken things can be perfect.

Joe Meno is the 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.

Joining Joe Meno in reading for this event will be Micky Hess and Gretchen Kalwinski.

Is Hip Hop Dead? The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Most Wanted Music Description: Proclamations of hip hop’s death have flooded the airwaves. The issue may have reached its boiling point in Nas’s 2006 album Hip Hop is Dead. Nas’s album is driven by nostalgia for a mythically pure moment in hip hop’s history, when the music was motivated by artistic passion, instead of base commercialism. In the course of this same album, however, Nas himself brags about making money for his particular record label. These and similar contradictions are emblematic of the complex forces underlying the dialogue that keeps hip hop a vital element of our culture. Through the lens of hip hop, and the threats to hip hop culture, author Mickey Hess is able to confront a range of important issues, including race, class, criminality, authenticity, the media, and personal identity.

Mickey Hess likes to think about rap music. He is Assistant Professor of English at Rider University, and the author of Is Hip Hop Dead? The Past, Present, and Future of America’s Most Wanted Music (Praeger). His memoir Big Wheel at the Cracker Factory will be reissued by Garrett County Press next summer. His stories have been featured in Ninth Letter, Punk Planet, and The McSweeney’s Humor Anthology.”

Gretchen Kalwinski has freelanced for: Stop Smiling, the Chicago Reader, Venus, UR Chicago, and Punk Planet about topics as varied as books, restaurants, theater, a lion and tiger den, and audio art. Kalwinski holds an English degree from Indiana University and has worked as an independent bookseller in San Francisco and Chicago, an editorial assistant for the University of Chicago Press, and the permissions coordinator for the Poetry Foundation. She has read her short fiction for the Guild Complex and Dollar Store reading series, and studied privately with poet Diane Di Prima. Her poems and short stories have been published in THE2NDHAND literary broadsheet and Paterson Literary Review, and she is cofounder and coeditor of, a literary website. She currently works as the Associate Features Editor at Time Out Chicago magazine.