Office Girl
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Office Girl

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3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,603 ratings  ·  303 reviews
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 drea...more
Hardcover, 293 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Akashic Books (first published June 28th 2012)
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24th out of 280 books — 229 voters
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Kirkus Best Fiction of 2012
39th out of 100 books — 50 voters


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Community Reviews

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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Man, it has been a long time since I've added anything to my "shit" shelf. Then again, I'm not a sadistic reader; I don't tend to waste concentration on anything I see myself hating in advance, because that thing Frank Zappa is said to have said about books and time or whatever. A couple of my goodreader friends rated this novel pretty highly, and despite warnings that it was a little too twee-t at times, I was assured in reviews by trusted sources that it was still a rewarding read, and I thoug...more
Nicky
A soft patchwork quilt of hipster clichés, sewn together by a manic pixie dream girl whose tiny white hands will also commit derivative art terrorism, cut trendy uneven bangs, and write Big Ideas in a colored Moleskine notebook.It's like an American Apparel ad had sex with a Target commercial and conceived a novel....more
Jessica Jeffers
I am not the right audience for this book.

It's about an early twenties artist lady who makes bad romantic decision after bad romantic decision, then meets Jack, an early twenties artist fellow and they decide to be artistic together in their own way.

This summer, my boyfriend dragged me to a super-hipster concert at a hipster-favored bar. It was his birthday, it was a free show, and he'd been looking forward to it for a while so I was a good sport. I stood there and did my best to pretend I was...more
oriana
Jul 26, 2012 oriana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to oriana by: Tuck
Shelves: read-2012
Oh no. I hate myself for saying this, but Office Girl is maybe too precious. I mean it's sweet and angsty and hipstertastic and I did like it... but lots of people will hate it, which makes me sad, because Joe Meno is so terrif.

I mean, look. It's manic-pixie dreamgirl to the core. Sad boy whose life is going nowhere meets quirky girl who refuses to believe her life is going nowhere and they do a lot of "art terrorism" and ride their bikes and have sex and watch French movies and fuck with each o...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
Erica was getting a haircut in Lincoln Square, so I did the requisite Gene's Sausage Shop shopping and then wandered into the Book Cellar. Right at the front they had a stack of Joe Meno's latest, Office Girl, with a "Autographed Copy" sticker on them. Well, I thought, even if it sucks, at least I'll have a signed copy, so I bought it and sat down with a cup of coffee. When Erica called to say she was done with her haircut, I was a third of the way through the book. We went home and I read the r...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Regular readers know that I am a longtime fan of Chicago contemporary lit legend Joe Meno, one of only a handful of local authors here right now to have broken through into national-scale reputation, media attention and resulting sales; and there have been projects of his in the past that I've really loved...more
Toby
Allow me to sum up my feelings for this book through song.
Caris
Under ordinary circumstances, I seldom buy books. I have finite shelf space at home and it's just easier for me to not add to my collection. If I buy something new, in order to retain some semblance of an organized bookshelf, I have to get rid of something else. This is difficult. I have ten bookshelves at my disposal. Each is about three feet wide. Overcrowding them offends my aesthetic sensibilities, and I've already weeded them down to something close to what I would call a critical collectio...more
Michelle
I hate-finished this book. Have you ever disliked a book and finished it only because you wanted to have a clear and precise explanation of what was wrong with the book? I also finished it because I hoped the ending would salvage the rest of the book.

Summary: It's 1999 and two 20-something slackers make art and love in Chicago. That's it. The plot is so thin it could start a high-fashion modelling career.

The good: The writing can be pretty darn good. The illustrations and photos are unobtrusive...more
Brian
had some problems with this book. but maybe the problems were what kept it from being perfect and therefore imperfect. but i doubt it.

let's just celebrate the wonderful things.

i started jotting down quotes from the book onto post-it notes and sticking them into the book where they were found:

"i want something that makes me look in wonder"

"i like to make things that are weird or small. i like things that don't make a whole lot of sense to anyone but me."

and then i came across this:
"...being in fa...more
Carolee Wheeler
You could probably criticize this author for writing shallow characters, or for just inventing the messed-up, Manic Pixie Dream Girl he really wants to date, or call the whole story facile or something, but it was the book version of a movie like Say Anything, where you really enjoy it if you don't think about the whole thing too much.

I loved the idea of Odile the twee art terrorist, and I thought her impulses were right-on, as far as railing against the status quo was concerned. That is all.
Tracy
Jul 10, 2012 Tracy marked it as to-read
I've been following Akashic Press on Twitter, finally I know one book they publish. I miss the 90s. I hate how no one is angsty anymore. No one has time for angst. Because we have to be super achievers now. Do well in high school to go to a good uni, then to a go get internships, then to an awesome job and in between be a obsessive foodie/amateur photog/fashionista. Ugh. Failfailfail
Larry Hoffer
"What do you do with the rest of your life when you realize you don't like anything?" This is one of the questions raised by Odile, one of the main characters of Joe Meno's newest book, Office Girl. Odile is a 20-something art school dropout working in a series of boring office jobs and dreaming of creating something special, of making people take notice. She finds herself falling into inappropriate relationship after inappropriate relationship, all because she's afraid of not being liked. When...more
Scott Wilson
Just noticed the "hide entire review because of spoilers" option. Here's a spoiler: This book pretty much sucks, and so I wouldn't read it again.
Michael Seidlinger
Taut and laid-back, Meno captures a sense of humanity that is so familiar its refreshing.

Rebecca
At first I thought I was reading about millennial hipsters, riding their bikes around snowy Chicago, defacing public property with paint pens. (I like this book's alternate title: "Young People on Bicycles Doing Troubling Things." It suits the story much better, as only a fraction of the book is from the "office girl's" point of view.) Soon I realized I wasn't reading about millennial hipsters at all. The story takes place in 1999, making them . . . GEN-X hipsters!

The first section of the book (...more
Megan
Jul 19, 2012 Megan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
After disappointments, setbacks and heartaches, Chicago hipsters Odile and Jack embark on a friendship and romance that ends as quick as it begins. Set in the winter of 1999, Joe Meno's Office Girl explores what it means to grow up, find your place, keep your originality and make something of worth (even if others don't see or understand it).

As a fan of Joe Meno, and considering Hairstyles of the Damned to be one of my favorite books of all time, I was excited to read Office Girl and everything...more
Nick
Jul 26, 2012 Nick rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: art school students-dropouts-graduates/barristas, hipsters/barristas
First things first, I really admire Joe Meno. The Boy Detective Fails nearly brought me to tears and though some of his other works may not as hit deeply both on a cerebral and visceral level, I respect the hell out of him. He mines the sort of literary territory that often appeals to me (if not cyclically); family, ageing, first love.
But I fear Office Girl came out about ten years too late for me. Some of it hit home the way I like good fiction too, characters and events I can relate to persona...more
Ken
Joe Meno's Office Girl traces the relationship between two would-be hipsters, Odile and Jack. Set in Chicago during the winter of 1999, the novel explores the minor everyday events, epiphanies, and disappointments of these two directionless twenty-somethings.

The first part of the book follows Odile as she grows dissatisfied with the affair she is having with a married man, the menial jobs she drifts to and from, and her own sense of self. Part two shifts to Jack's story--his dissolving marriage,...more
Jennifer
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joshua
This is my favorite Meno book since "Hairstyles of the Damned". I highly recommend this one!
Stephanie A.
So much vulgarity I'd be ashamed if anyone I knew read the book after being aware I read it, and yet, the book fascinated me. It swept me into its world in a dream-like state, transported me to a just-barely-retro Chicago and an almost-romantic view of being a 20-something in crappy dead end jobs with no real idea of what you're doing, but at least doing it independently. Maybe it was because I read it on a road trip on a bleak November day through intriguing new places, so I was full of a sense...more
Danelle
I admire Joe Meno. He writes about these really important things and does so in such a cool way. His latest, Office Girl was a book I didn't want to like but ended up falling for anyway.

I mean, we were just finishing another 'Soccer Saturday' at our house. And I am still trying to come to terms with being an actual soccer mom and how I know it was basically inevitable. And we're home after a 3 1/2 hour stint at the local soccer fields watching 4-8 year-olds run around and kick each other. And I...more
Vanessa
"...sometimes his friend Birdie asks him to make copies of her cut-and-paste zine, which is called YOU AND YOUR VERY INTERESTING BEARD, and there are always pencil drawings of many different hairy beards talking to one another, having these very philosophical discussions about art and literature, like Lenin's beard talking to Walt Whitman's beard..."

I adored this book. I really did. I knew from the moment I saw the cover and read the synopsis and flipped through it quickly that it was exactly my...more
Mazohyst
In one of the reviews I've read of this book, someone stated something along the lines of, "it's good, if you don't think about it." This pretty much sums up the book for me. The effect even more so since I listened to the audiobook.

The book wasn't bad. There were a couple of moments where I would listen and I'd think, yes. But they were outweighed by the characters. While believable and so human, I just didn't like them. It didn't help that the narrator made the males sound stoned and dumb all...more
T. Coughlin
It’s almost funny how much I enjoyed this novel, because I tried to avoid it for a long time. I saw the cover photo, girl on bike, and thought, looks like a romance novel – avoid? But, I picked it up on a recommendation and I really liked what Joe Meno accomplished. He broke a lot of rules with his style and story plot. He wrote a novel about two young people, 23, and 25, who have not figured out the world yet and still believe they can make a difference. Odiel has a great voice and an innocent...more
Leanne

Office Girl is a light, easy summer read, perfect for the beach. It's a tale of love and ultimately growing up. Odile is an art school dropout who wants to make everyone happy, in the form of sexual favors and money. Jack is a depressed art school graduate whose wife is leaving him. His main form of happiness is recording the sounds of the city on cassettes which are stacked in boxes all over his house. Both begin work in third shift Muzak phone sales and meet, sensing immediately they are alike

...more
John Lamb
I probably liked this book because it made me nostalgic more than for the overall quality of writing. The art school student romance set in the 90s at the center of the novel was probably a variation of a fantasy I can imagine myself having when I was in high school, which means the book made me nostalgic for a fantasy I used to have that never happened. As other reviewers have noted Odile, the female character, verges into Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory, and her adventures with Jack, the male...more
Greg Zimmerman
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. Jack is 25. He's an art school graduate, recently divorced, and is also aimless. The two meet at a menial second-shift office job.

That's the basic framework of Joe Meno's slim, sad new novel Office Girl. But Joe Meno's slim, sad new novel is awesome; it's one of my favorites of the year, in fact. It's a book that resonated...more
Anne
One line of the description of this book hooked me, "Nothing takes place during a World War." Not that there aren't great books that take place during World Wars, but I have read many of them in my time, and I could use a different setting (as long as it's not also post 9/11 PTSD land). Office Girl, however, was not quite what I was looking for. It tells the story of "artists" Odile and Jack and reads like a literary version of Zooey Deschanel's quirky too-cool projects. As the two work menial o...more
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Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright that lives in Chicago. A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award and the Society of Midland Author's Fiction Prize, he is the author of four novels, The Boy Detective Fails (Akashic 2006), Hairstyles of the Damned (Akashic 2004), Tender as Hellfire (St. Martin's 1999), and How the Hula Girl Sings (HarperCollins 2001). His short story collection is Blu...more
More about Joe Meno...
Hairstyles of the Damned The Boy Detective Fails The Great Perhaps How the Hula Girl Sings Demons in the Spring

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“Jack: Well, I've never been to New York, but I hear it's for assholes.
Odile: It's not.
Jack: Well, that's what I heard. Cool people don't live there anymore, They all live here. In Chicago.”
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“How’s life?”
“That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard.”
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