‘Marvel and a Wonder’11/11/2015
The grit is palpable in Joe Meno’s “Marvel and a Wonder.” So much so that at times I found myself forgetting that it took place in 1995 on a farm in Indiana and not out west in another century. The story starts with Jim Falls struggling to raise his grandson, Quentin. Early on, the novel consists mostly of Jim and Quentin doing chores on the farm. With school approaching, Jim begins to wonder how long the farm will be able to last, especially without the help of his grandson. Just when things are looking bleak, a white quarter horse is delivered to the farm. After an investigation into where the horse came from provides little explanation, Jim decides to keep it. The good news is the horse likes to run, but just when the tide appears to be turning, the horse gets stolen. Soon after, it was discovered that the horse was taken by a couple of local meth-dealing delinquents.
The story really starts to take off when Jim and Quentin head to Kentucky in search of their horse. They are on a mission for greater reasons than the value of the horse, and they wanted it back. Both Jim and Quentin thought the horse signified something bigger than itself, with Jim thinking it was sent to him from his dead wife, and Quentin taking it as a sign from God.
The farm scenes reminded me of “A Thousand Acres” by Jane Smiley. At times the bond between Quentin and Jim was reminiscent of “Gran Torino.” If this book were made into a movie, it should be shot in black and white. The depictions of decline were in the same vein as Cormac McCarthy. If you mostly read mysteries and are looking to branch out, consider “Marvel and a Wonder.” CV
Hunter Gillum plans on getting more reading done now that baseball is over.