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Office Girl

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,321 ratings  ·  384 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
Paperback, 295 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Akashic Books
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Average rating 3.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,321 ratings  ·  384 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 ...more
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
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Fuzzy Gerdes
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
"You are not doing so good at being happy.

Stop believing pop culture will save you.

Unimportant things are the most important.

Anything that lasts longer than ten seconds is a lie.

We are looking out for you.

Alphonse F."

Odile is a 23-year-old art school dropout who works dead end office jobs while dreaming of starting an art movement. She also makes a lot of bad decisions in her relationships because she cares too much about whether people like her.

Jack is a 25-year-old uncertain of his future,
Carolee Wheeler
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litlounge, 2013
Allow me to sum up my feelings for this book through song.
Larry H
"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
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, review
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
Jul 10, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
Scott Wilson
Aug 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...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
May 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Completely unlikeable, self-deprecating characters who embody the stupid weird hipster whimsicalness that seems both too accurate and too make-believe at the same time. But I related a lot to the winter biking + the fact that Odile was from Minneapolis. And I'm a sucker for literature about experiencing the City in creative and meaningful ways re: Jack's tape recordings of random sounds throughout Chicago (think floating pink balloons, stalled buses, crying babies, puddles etc). So whatever.
Jul 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
This book is ripe with conversations people have when they don't know what they're doing with their lives and are too afraid to figure it out. One of Joe Meno's earlier books is a favorite of mine (-The Boy Detective Fails). Office Girl was nothing but a disappointment for me. Imagine reading nearly 300 pages much like this excerpt:

"What are your plans for the future, Jack?"
"My what?"
"Plans. For the future."
"I don't know. I really don't have any."
Michael Seidlinger
Taut and laid-back, Meno captures a sense of humanity that is so familiar its refreshing.

Jul 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
TW: molestation/sexual assault/harassment, slurs (retarded, gay as an insult).

I want to not be so mean and snarky in writing this, but I just don't think that it's possible. This book, while reading it, represented everything I hate about contemporary literature. From the very first page, when Odile is described including her underwear, I just knew. Odile is very much a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, although the book starts from her perspective. I really wanted to empathize with her, but she never
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
There is no way that this is supposed to be an adult novel. And yet, it is. Seriously. This was a fairly decent YA book. If the main characters were high school seniors then almost everything they do would make sense. And the book itself would be considered YA (which I tend to judge less harshly) and it would have gotten 3-3.5 stars. The new young adults are trying out the world and being all cynical and hoping for their lives to be better than average.

And yet, they are mid-20s. Which is, yes,
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2013
let me sum up this book for you with a website: http://lookatthisfuckinghipster.tumbl...
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite Meno book since "Hairstyles of the Damned". I highly recommend this one!
karen Moore
Oct 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This is possibly the worst book i've ever read. I made it halfway through and just can't want to finish it.
Greg Zimmerman
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. A winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, the Great Lakes Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Society of Midland Author's Fiction Prize, and a finalist for the Story Prize, he is the author of seven novels and two short story collections. He is also the editor of Chicago Noir: The Classics. A long-time contributor to the seminal ...more
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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.”
“...and realizes how there are all these moments, moments like just this one, there are all these moments, and how everyone lives their lives in these short, all-too-short moments. There are all these moments and what's so interesting, what makes them beautiful, is the fact that none of them last.” 4 likes
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