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Office Girl [Kindle Edition]

Joe Meno
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"Meno's tender, hip, funny, and imaginative portrayal of two Chicago misfits...dramatizes that anguished and awkward passage between legal age and actual adulthood."
--Booklist, "Core Collection: New Adult Fiction"

Named "Best New Novel by a Chicagoan" and "Best Book for the Disillusioned Artist in All of Us" by the Chicago Reader

Selected by The Believer's readers as a favorite fiction work of 2012

One of DailyCandy's Best Books of 2012

"An off-kilter romance doubles as an art movement in Joe Meno's novel. The novel reads as a parody of art-school types...and as a tribute to their devil-may-care spirit. Meno impressively captures post-adolescent female angst and insecurity. Fresh and funny, the images also encapsulate the mortification, confusion and excitement that define so many 20-something existences."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Wonderful storytelling panache...Odile is a brash, moody, likable young woman navigating the obstacles of caddish boyfriends and lousy jobs, embarking on the sort of sentimental journey that literary heroines have been making since Fanny Burney's Evelina in the 1770s. Tenderhearted Jack is the awkward, quiet sort that the women in Jane Austen's novels overlook until book's end. He is obsessed with tape-recording Chicago's ambient noises so that he can simulate the city in the safety of his bedroom, 'a single town he has invented made of nothing but sound.' Mr. Meno excels at capturing the way that budding love can make two people feel brave and freshly alive to their surroundings...the story of the relationship has a sweet simplicity."
--The Wall Street Journal

"In Joe Meno's new novel, set in the last year of the 20th century, art school dropout Odile Neff and amateur sound artist Jack Blevins work deadening office jobs; gush about indie rock, French film, and obscure comic book artists; and gradually start a relationship that doubles as an art movement. They are, in other words, the 20-something doyens of pop culture and their tale of promiscuous roommates, on-again/off-again exes, and awkward sex is punctuated on the page by cute little doodles, black and white photographs (of, say, a topless woman in a Stormtrooper mask), and monologues that could easily pass for Belle & Sebastian lyrics ("It doesn’t pay to be a dreamer because all they really want you to do is answer the phone")."
--Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)

"Meno has constructed a snowflake-delicate inquiry into alienation and longing. Illustrated with drawings and photographs and shaped by tender empathy, buoyant imagination, and bittersweet wit, this wistful, provocative, off-kilter love story affirms the bonds forged by art and story."
--Booklist (starred review)

No one dies in Office Girl. Nobody talks about the international political situation. There is no mention of any economic collapse. Nothing takes place during a World War.

Instead, this novel is about young people doing interesting things in the final moments of the last century. Odile is a lovely twenty-three-year-old art-school dropout, a minor vandal, and a hopeless dreamer. Jack is a twenty-five-year-old shirker who's most happy capturing the endless noises of the city on his out-of-date tape recorder. Together they decide to start their own art movement in defiance of a contemporary culture made dull by both the tedious and the obvious. Set in February 1999—just before the end of one world and the beginning of another—Office Girl is the story of two people caught between the uncertainty of their futures and the all-too-brief moments of modern life.

Joe Meno's latest novel also features black-and-white illustrations by renowned artist Cody Hudson and photographs by visionary photographer Todd Baxter.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2012: Light but not fluffy, spare but not small, this novel from the Chicago-based playwright and novelist is a love letter to youth, art, and, well, love. It is 1999, and 23-year-old Odile (think the actress from Amélie or The Entertainer, except she’s American; ever self-aware, Meno concludes the book with a note expecting a movie version) and Jack, a 25-year-old semi-slacker, meet through their excruciatingly dull cubicle jobs and decide to start their own unboring art movement. Along the way, they talk, ride bicycles, and do graffiti. But the plot here is not the thing. Meno’s style is charmingly simple: He writes in short chapters mercifully light on irony and peppered with black-and-white illustrations and photographs that stop just this side of cute, raising this tale of frustrated Gen-Xers way above the clichéd boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl story of any era. --Sara Nelson

Review

Earphones Award Winner. ""[Julia] Whelan's impeccable timing, pacing, and command of the different characters make for a beguiling listening experience. Whelan emphasizes the ordinary and unique qualities of the characters and accentuates the freshness of this quixotic and unconventional story."" - AudioFile Magazine
Starred Review. ""Meno has constructed a snow-flake delicate inquiry into alienation and longing. Illustrated with drawings and photographs and shaped by tender empathy, buoyant imagination, and bittersweet wit, this wistful, provocative, off-kilter love story affirms the bonds forged by art and story."" - Booklist
""High on quirk and hipster cred, the novel is light as air, surprisingly unpretentious, and extremely kind to its larky, irony-addled protagonists...endearing."" - Publishers Weekly, ""Pick of the Week""
A Best Fiction Book of 2012. ""...a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999... But when things Get Weird as things do when we're young, Meno is refreshingly honest in portraying the lowest lows and not just the innocent highs. A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending."" - Kirkus Reviews
""Along with PBRs, flannels, and thick-framed glasses, this Millennial Franny and Zooey is an instant hipster staple."" - Marie Claire
One of the ""Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2012 Book Preview"" titles. - The Millions
""...Meno has written the book he's been wanting to write for years, combining all of those classic elements of his previous work... Gorgeously packaged, it's like a Meno box set 15 years in the making."" - Time Out Chicago
""In this geeky-elegant novel, Meno transforms wintery Chicago into a wondrous crystallization of countless dreams and tragedies, while telling the stories of two derailed young artists, two wounded souls, in cinematic vignettes that range from lushly atmospheric visions to crack-shot volleys of poignant and funny dialogue."" - Kansas City Star
""Meno supplies an off-kilter, slightly inappropriate answer to the Hollywood rom-com. Meno is a deft writer. The dialogue in Office Girl is often funny, the pacing quirky, and some of its quick, affecting similes remind me of Lorrie Moore."" - Chicago Reader
""...an honest look at the isolation of being a creative person in your 20s living in a city."" - Daily Beast, ""3 Must-Read Offbeat Novels""
""Fresh and sharply observed, Office Girl is a love story on bicycles, capturing the beauty of individual moments and the magic hidden in everyday objects and people. Joe Meno will make you stop and notice the world. And he will make you wonder."" - Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

Product Details

  • File Size: 916 KB
  • Print Length: 301 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 161775076X
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (July 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008AK1HEK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,143 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brief, satisfying summer read June 30, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a fine book, one that also happens to be screaming to be a quirky, sparsely distributed indie film. Done right, that movie could have a cult following; if not, everyone would complain that the movie's not nearly as good as the book, and for good reason: it's tightly written, with few flourishes and no extraneous themes.

Office Girl is about Odile and Jack. Both are twenty-somethings who attended art school but were dead-ended in meaningless jobs; Odile is sleeping with a married man, while Jack's wife is leaving the country and their newly-minted marriage. When they meet during the Chicago blizzard of 1999, they have a lot in common, especially that they need each other. In the pages that follow, Meno's characters explore nostalgia, expression, and pop culture and discover strength they didn't previously know about. Even though you've probably met the essence of these characters before, Meno's character development makes this brief but satisfying read recommended for a summer reading list.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't get through this one December 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I feel like this is a book for hipster teeny boppers. I couldn't read past a few chapters.
I'm sure this will make a great gift for a young angsty teen.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alternately Irritating and Entertaining January 28, 2013
By kcuccia
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ehhh. After finishing this book yesterday I spent a while trying to figure out why I alternated between liking bits of it and being totally irritated by most of it. I liked the idea that life is really about the small moments we experience or create, but was totally annoyed by the characters. Neither Jack nor Odile was particularly likeable or original. They both seemed to act much too young for their age and neither seemed quite believable - they both felt too much like a sterotypical hipster. Their angst was pretty cliched. The writing was blah with a few good bits. The emphasis on color was interesting if you paid attention to it. The illustrations and photos were an interesting idea and sometimes quite entertaining, but it all seemed to be trying a little too hard to be clever. I enjoyed the little acts of art terrorism, but wasn't really moved by it, but rather admired the ideas from a distance. You never really get close to feeling anything real in this book - it's a pretty quick, superficial read
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, Original, Fresh Love Story July 14, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While this book is not for everyone, if you are looking for something inventive and fresh, it is well worth the read. Readers who enjoyed Visit from the Goon Squad, will enjoy this novel as well for the same quality of freshness among its characters. This novel is for those who admire creativity, taking chances, breaking the traditional novelistic structure, excellent characterization. and living metaphors and descriptions. This book is not for traditional literary readers but rather for the avant garde literary reader open to "taking chances." I enjoyed this book immensely and will not forget it soon. Yes, it is indie, yes it is calling out to be made into a film by the right film-maker, and yes, I will see it but not expect the film industry to capture the magic of the original. Great book to take to the beach, but also a good book to stoke creativity if you are also an artist or writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars July 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Cute coming of age story about quirky, interesting people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars such heartbreak August 18, 2013
By scorcho
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have you ever fallen in love with a character in a book? This book has done that to me .
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1.0 out of 5 stars REJECTION May 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I did not enjoy this book. The book contained only empty words. I thought the characters were mentally challenged. Was unable to find any value as to what message the author wanted to impart.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Today's classic April 25, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A very good novel. To my knowledge, Office Girl hasn't received the recognition it should. The book has the spark, flair and the punch of The Catcher in the Rye. Having said that, I realize I've just raised the bar high on the scale. The characters have the everyday flaws that seem hardwired into all of us. These flaws intrude into our lives and influence choices that could lead to success or failure.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely little book
After trying to slog through something big and boring, I picked up Joe Meno's Office Girl. This book was such a breath of fresh air. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Sky
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the BEEF?
The characters, Odile and Jack, couldn't be less appealing. And even though they are supposed to be 19 and 25 respectively they behave like immature twelve-year-olds. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Nancy Rossman
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVED it!
Enjoyed this book from the very first page. Quirky, interesting characters who move through an interesting plot line and
kept me engaged.
Published 22 months ago by Happy Shopper
3.0 out of 5 stars not bad, cheap read.
I liked this book okay, nothing to rave about but for the price it was an okay story. not the kind of book I would read twice but I wasn't disappointed. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Misty Dyan
5.0 out of 5 stars Funky Reinvention of the Novel
Office Girl is a love story on bikes. It's about the aimlessness of late twenty-somethings living in the urban sprawl, trying to find companionship and a place in the world. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Gina
5.0 out of 5 stars A Chicago Love Story
It's February, 1999, and here we are, in snowy, freezing Chicago. Odile is 23. She's dropped out of art school and is aimless. She fears she's never done anything interesting. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Gregory Zimmerman
4.0 out of 5 stars Really great
As an avid book reader, I was interested to read this book. I found an excerpt of it on tumblr, so i knew it would be a hipster mentality type of thing. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Ursula
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More About the Author

Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. He is the winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Great Lakes Book Award, and a finalist for the Story Prize. He is the author of six novels including the bestsellers Hairstyles of the Damned and The Boy Detective Fails, and two short story collections including Demons in the Spring. His non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times and Chicago Magazine.

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