Read Office Girl by Joe Meno Todd Baxter Cody Hudson Online


Part of DailyCandy's Best of 2012 List“Best 100 Books of 2012” --Kirkus Reviews "Fresh and funny, the images encapsulate the mortification, confusion and excitement that define so many 20-something existences." --The New York Times Book Review "Wonderful storytelling panache...Mr. Meno excels at capturing the way that budding love can make two people feel brave and freshlPart of DailyCandy's Best of 2012 List“Best 100 Books of 2012” --Kirkus Reviews"Fresh and funny, the images encapsulate the mortification, confusion and excitement that define so many 20-something existences."--The New York Times Book Review"Wonderful storytelling panache...Mr. Meno excels at capturing the way that budding love can make two people feel brave and freshly alive...Sweet simplicity."--The Wall Street Journal"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 (starred review)"The talented Chicago-based Meno has composed a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999 . . . A sweetheart of a novel, complete with a hazy ending."--Kirkus Reviews"High on quirk and hipster cred."--Publishers Weekly, "Pick of the Week""Meno's book is an honest look at the isolation of being a creative person in your twenties living in a city."--Daily Beast, "3 Must-Read Offbeat Novels""Along with PBRs, flannels, and thick-framed glasses, this Millennial Franny and Zooey is an instant hipster staple."--Marie Claire"Gorgeously packaged, it's like a Meno box set 15 years in the making."--TimeOut 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"A charming and unpretentious hipster love story destined to be the next cult classic."--Flavorwire"Today, when it seems that most media is hellbent on constantly reflecting on and reinventing our childhood and adolescence, it's refreshing to read a novel that can be nostalgic without being ironic."--Grantland"Office Girl is packed with whimsy and soft terror ... Meno does good here."--Anobium"Joe Meno's Office Girl draws the awkward love story of two twenty-somethings with grace and empathy in this exceptional novel."--Largehearted Boy"Office Girl might be Joe Meno's breakthrough novel . . . his crystalline prose has a chance to shine."--The Stranger"Wistful, heartbreaking, and melancholy, a sneakily tight manuscript that gets better and better the farther you read."--Chicago Center for Literature and Photography"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 ThiefNo 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....

Title : Office Girl
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781617750762
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 295 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Office Girl Reviews

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-03-05 01:42

    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 thought I'd give it a shot because I am expanding my horizons and modernizing my lit knowledge and pushing my boundaries and, come to think of it, making this new-ish personal goal sound way more important than it actually is, even to me. Also, I couldn't get a hold of The Boy Detective Fails as easily, which is the Meno I really wanted to read, and still do...hesitantly. The best thing about this novel? The cover looks like a Belle & Sebastian album, and I've always loved those, aesthetically. Some would maybe even argue that the style was straight-up aped right down to the font, but B&S appropriated that look largely from French Pop records of the Gainsbourg School, and I didn't fault them for it. So, sure. Nice cover. Here in the build-up to the hate review is about where I would generally place any additional compliments I could muster for the sake of fairness, but I'm tapped. This book and I are not friends.It's just that it's of that Garden State ilk, where forlorn, lost boy meets hopeful, flighty, largely vacuous girl, they have a go at exchanging fluids in montage, sticking their heads out of car windows to taste the air, screaming off mountaintops, giggling and hand-holding and running away from the stares of passersby (not that they care! they are living, I tellsya! L-I-V-I-N-G!) after they do weeeiiiird, waaaacky, arrrrty shit in public because they're just so quirky and interesting and quirky and interesting, and listing off music in this way that made me feel like I was scanning a Pitchfork review or flipping through the AllMusic Guide rather than reading a novel. Then maybe it all falls apart, but maybe she just weally, weally changed him fowever and it was all worth it in the end. Blech. Emo wackery, Human Prozac-Vagina Miracle Cure nonsense. The notion that the only thing required to "fix you" is the company of a single "interesting" person who's willing to listen to your pity-party, nodding along sagely while maybe jerking you off on a few occasions as Truffaut movies play in the background. Man, your life must be really boring if that is the pinnacle of profound and memorable experience for you and, coming from me, that's fucking sad.So, that's the book. Yep, that's pretty much it. Now I am going to nitpick a few things that especially drove me batty-shit.First, there is a scene early in the novel where our Pixie Girl is fumbling through her clothes, and puts on a Suicide tee because apparently all her other shirts for obscure-ish bands are just way too dirty at the moment. A few pages later, she slow-dances with a former lover to this music she doesn't recognize, so she asks who it is, this music they are dancing to which she does not know at all and whoever could it be, ever? And it is The Police. I'm sorry, but I refuse to accept that I could possibly live in any sort of world where there is a single random 90's Chicago art girl who knows who Alan Vega is, but couldn't identify Sting's singing voice in a lineup. Too much suspension of disbelief. Painful fabrications. G' fuck yaself.On another music-related note, the chick's favorite song? After Hours by The Velvet Underground, which is a lot like saying Yellow Submarine is your favorite Beatles song. I realize I could be starting to sound like a real asshole here, or maybe even everything I hate about these characters with the snobbery and the name-dropping, but you open yourself up to these types of criticisms when you start swinging the music references around as freeball-style as this book does. Research. Research is good.The last technical gripe, and my biggest, is something a lot of people probably wouldn't even notice, but given the particulars of my current vocational situation, it made me want to scream. First, you should know: I work in the surgical unit of a hospital, frequently suiting up, sorta like a less intense version of the scary CDC bad gubberment guys in zombie/infection flicks, to go in and sterilize wires, pressure-cuffs, beds, and floors touched by patients with contact-spreadable infections from bacteria, namely Staphylococcus and Clostridium difficile. Making sure they don't get tracked all over the joint, you see. It's a pretty low-rung position, but extremely important to do right, for obvious reasons. Well, there's a scene late in the novel where our boy-wonderstruck goes to visit a recently sliced-open relative who has contracted MRSA, post-op. People, MRSA is a staph infection. A multi-drug-resistant staph infection. Sick folks lose limbs and die in hospitals over this type of shit. Oh, but! In this heartwarming scene, our leading man struts right into his relative's hospital room, with no nurses (who should really be in masks, and gloves, and gowns, and footies) stopping him to be like "Oh, uh, don't touch anything. And use the following safety precautions. Such as wearing this gown, and these gloves, and..." But no, he just sits right down and grabs his stepdad's bare hand, kisses his bare hand, doesn't wash his own hands, and then hustles his petri dish self all the way out the door, back on the streets of Chicago, riding to his dream lady's garage sale where he flips through some books and other shit, buys something with a dollar bill because fuck it, she broke my heart anyway, then goes into his call-center job where he continues to wipe his evil funk all over additional communal spaces. At this point, I had a pretty morbid hope-fantasy where this novel took some sort of totally weird turn in which it became like a Soderbergh flick, and the MPDG plotline was just a ruse masking this badass last act plague tale. Not that MRSA is like the plague, but it got me thinking. And it didn't happen. Don't go into a contact precaution room without taking contact precautions, is my point. Not that any hospital staff would even let you get away with it, and if they would, never ever go within a thousand feet of that hospital. Also, don't incorporate medical problems into your novels without at least googling them first.I dunno, stuff like that.

  • Nikki
    2019-03-09 01:56

    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. 

  • Jessica
    2019-03-20 22:39

    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 enjoying it. I mean, I hated it but I wanted him to have a good time so I wasn't going to tell him I hated it. Afterward, a friend asked me about the venue and my response was, "There was just so much ironic crochet." That's all I could think of while I was reading this book: ironic crochet. Odile, the main character with the impish name, is like the most extreme form of human being parodied by Parks and Rec's April Ludgate: On the outside, at least, she hates everything except the things that she loves ironically. I just don't get people like that at all. I mean, I am all for being unique and liking what you like and marching to the beat of whichever drum you want, but seriously: what is the point of being so bitter while you're doing it?When Odile goes to an art show opening: It’s her friend Liz’s opening, and all of the art looks like it’s been done by deranged teenage boys, like it’s part of some gigantic game of Dungeons and Dragons, or else it’s been inspired by anime or video games; it’s full of weird purple tentacles and vaginas with teeth, and all of it is lacking any kind of originality, none of it does anything for her, and so she drinks.That's how I felt reading this book. I wanted to drink, even on the bus at 7 AM. Alternatively, I debated writing a review about how this book is just bout the color of various objects. Twice on the first page Meno referred to Odile's "gray skirt." The first chapter alone refers to her green bicycle, green scarf, pink mittens, pink underwear. What is that?If you like stuff like photos of topless Storm Troopers, you might like this book. I could barely make it through. I shoulda known by the hip, ironic san serif font.

  • Oriana
    2019-03-20 04:49

    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 other's emotions. They go to an "imaginary buildings" party where everyone has to dress as a building. They bike through the snow, back and forth and back and forth. She tags things with a silver paint pen, he carries a tiny tape recorder and records the ambient city, sounds like a balloon floating away or snow falling or whatever. They are both lost and confused and searching, and they find each other and feed off each other's mania for a little while and then it ends and is sad. As with most MPDG plotlines, the boy is nowhere near a match for the girl. I got pretty tired of him following along behind her like a puppy and basically going "What? We're really doing this? Why? How? Wait for me!" He is mostly paralyzed by inaction, indecision, and self-loathing, which gets a little tiring. And she is kind of a bitch much of the time, and pretty self-absorbed. Basically they are both early-twenties art-school dropouts, which, I don't know, is territory ripe for plumbing, but is also always right on the line between scintillating and twee.So, in conclusion, there's lots of beauty and ache, but the preciousness kind of looms up too large sometimes and makes it feel clichéd. Liked but didn't love. Hurry up and write something else, Joe!

  • Fuzzy Gerdes
    2019-02-19 00:01

    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 rest in one long session on the couch. Well, wait, that's not strictly true, because as I approached the end of the book I kept taking breaks because I knew that once I finished I wasn't going to be reading the book anymore and I wanted to put off that moment. Do you know what I mean?The book is set in Chicago in the winter of 1999 and follows a young man and a young woman, who we meet separately and then together as they begin to go out. Both are former art school students (graduate and drop-out, respectively) now working terrible office jobs.I moved to Chicago in 1999, so that winter was my first winter here, but the book didn't resonate with me necessarily because that was my life or anything--I was 30 by the time I moved here, with a computer science degree and a pretty good job. It's just a really good book, about like people and a bit about art, and about just making decisions and stuff.

  • Jason Pettus
    2019-03-06 03:45

    (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 loved, and ones I found only so-so, and ones I thought…er, not so so-so, so I'm never exactly sure what I'm going to get when I dive into a new one. But this latest, from our friends at the great Akashic Books and being released just this week, is a different thing altogether from anything else in this shapeshifter's career -- deliberately small and intimate, and easy to dismiss at first as the meaningless musings of hipster douchebags, by the end it manages to be rather wistful, heartbreaking and melancholy, a sneakily tight manuscript that gets better and better the farther you read. Essentially the full beginning-to-end tale of one of those torrid three-week romantic relationships that litter so many of our pasts, and set among good-looking twentysomething art-school dropouts because, hey, why not, Meno's point here is to look at one of these people who sometimes just randomly blows into our lives for a bit, changes it profoundly, then just as randomly leaves again for the entire rest of your life; and by following it in its full messy glory, Meno's bigger point is to remind us of why these experiences are so important, why we remember them so nostalgically and positively for nearly the rest of our lives. Set during the Great Chicago Blizzard of 1999, the entire book has a muted and closed-in tone that serves its Before Sunrise feel well; and although Meno occasionally leans on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl tropes a bit too much (she has doe eyes and a thrift-store coat! She bicycles in the snow! She does impromptu absurdist performance art on the el!), by humanizing her in a sophisticated and complex way he largely avoids the biggest sins of that cliche, making this a quickly paced charmer that I suspect will eventually be one of the most popular titles of his career. A novel just begging to get adapted into the quirky movie debut of the next big national indie-film darling, it comes strongly recommended to existing fans of Garden State and (500) Days of Summer; and don't forget that I recently had a chance to sit down and talk with Meno here in Chicago for nearly an hour almost exclusively just about this book for the CCLaP Podcast, so I hope you'll get a chance to check that out as well when it's available next week.Out of 10: 9.4

  • Michelle
    2019-03-22 02:50

    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 but don't add much to the text.The bad: The office girl of the title is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who is there to save the male author, I mean, protagonist. It's not like he's a paper-thin expy of the author. The author loves giving female characters pretentious French names (Odile, Isobel, Elise). It's a bit exhausting and sad. Someone must have told the author that Odile was a MPDG because he writes the first few chapters from her p.o.v., but the rest of the novel is from Jack's perspective and about Jack. She never feels like a real character (despite having a family back in Minnesota and a roommate) and it's annoying. She also doesn't take any sort of responsibility for her actions. She acts like everything just happens to her and you get a feel that a lot of her dialogue was probably cribbed from some of the author's ex-girlfriends.Also, in a very 1990s way, nothing happens. They're slackers and they're so unmotivated that it drives me nuts. Seriously, they have no motivation except these half-thought out hazy ambitions. "I dunno" and "okay" feature a lot in the dialogue.Bottom line: I can't believe he teaches fiction writing. Wait, beautiful prose and almost no plot. Yeah, but I still feel sorry for his students.

  • Toby
    2019-02-21 04:47

    Allow me to sum up my feelings for this book through song.

  • Brian
    2019-03-18 22:38

    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 favor of unimportant things. insignificant stuff. things that get ignored. things nobody else cares about. like post-it notes." and i wrote that on a post-it note and stuck it in the's ironic that this book and its characters want so much to be original but the story is ordinary. like there are only so many stories or ways that stories can turn out. and i read somewhere in a review that this book was destined to be an urban outfitter favorite. which goes against everything anyone inside the book would ever want.this book made me feel feelings, reminding me that my life doesn't have to be sapped away by corporations. i used to be full of energy and new ideas, but over time -- who cares? the answer, i guess is that you have to.i think if i were to want to improve this book i would get rid of two words: "and" and "really". but i can't do that so i have to accept the flaws as part of the perfection. or something.

  • Carolee Wheeler
    2019-03-12 23:01

    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
    2019-03-13 00:49

    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 H
    2019-03-18 23:40

    "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 she meets Jack, an amateur sound artist whose marriage has ended and who doesn't know what to do with his life, the two forge an immediate connection while trying not to fall into their regular behavior patterns.Odile and Jack start an art revolution, which combines performance art (spontaneously breaking into a scene from a movie while on the subway), graffiti, and creating an imaginary persona, Alphonse F., to whom they attribute their "art." All the while, the two find themselves falling in love, experiencing all of the joy, comfort, insecurity, and doubts that young love brings, with the hopes and fears that come with opening yourself up to another person. And with love often comes self-discovery and the ability to make changes in your life, even if they may not be the right ones.Joe Meno is at his best when he's capturing the angst, insecurity, and eccentricities of 20-somethings or even high school students, as he did in his terrific Hairstyles of the Damned. The book honestly feels like an aggregation of every quirky independent movie about a couple ever made. You can totally see this book as a movie, and in fact, I think these characters might even be more vivid on the screen than they were on the page. This was a tremendously quick read, and was light and enjoyable.

  • Scott Wilson
    2019-03-21 03:07

    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.

  • Vanessa
    2019-03-19 04:46

    "...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 kind of book, and I'm so happy I found it on the Waterstones buy one get one free table.Office Girl tells the story of two people, 23 year old art school dropout Odile, and 25 year old master of the cassette recorder Jack, both living in Chicago in 1999. Both have complicated lives, and both experience a constant feeling that they need to make their mark on the world, and are meant for big things. Yet they both work the same, dull, dead-end call centre job. All they have that is extraordinary is each other and their own avant-garde art movement.This book will clearly not be for everyone. I've said before that even before reading this book, it reminded me of the movies of Wes Anderson and those other kind of quirky American independent films. I really feel I was bang on the money with that assertion. I love the few but poignant references scattered throughout this book, ranging from jazz music and the film Breathless to the Velvet Underground & Nico and Twin Peaks. I loved that they rode bicycles everywhere and were pretty messed up, and liked unusual things, and took risks, and were pure in their love for each other (however brief). I also loved the fact that it was set during the winter time. It made me long for snow and thick parka jackets and snow boots and cold flushed cheeks and darkness.And of course I must give a mention to the layout of the book. It isn't printed in your traditional Times New Roman font, but in something else - I'm not sure what it is but I love it so if anyone reads this book and knows, please tell me! There are also drawings and photographs scattered about that tie in with various events and moments within the book, and they are beautiful and effortless. They really enhanced my enjoyment and engagement with this book.If you like any of the things I have mentioned above, then I implore you to pick up this book. Also, I finished it in less than a day. If that's not enough to make you want to pick this up, then I don't know what is. I adored it, and I hope you do too. ALPHONSE F. WAS HERE.

  • Robin
    2019-02-28 22:42

    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
    2019-03-09 23:37

    Taut and laid-back, Meno captures a sense of humanity that is so familiar its refreshing.

  • Megan
    2019-03-10 23:37

    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 it had to offer. Unfortunately, I found this book to be bland, boring, and, frankly, pretentious and too hipster-ish for my tastes.One of the reviews on the back of the book exclaimed that this novel captures the essence of the first twenty five years of life, or something to that effect. As a twenty five year old myself, I can say that I have never experienced anything like the lives and relationships of Odile and Jack. I'm not even sure what I think this novel captures as both main characters are so incredibly messed up and are really two pretty crappy human beings.I'm sorry, but it becomes extremely hard for me to empathize with a character when one of your first encounters with him is being a complete creeper to his soon-to-be ex-wife and kicking their cat because he can't figure out a more adult way to cope. On top of that, Odile is a pretentious, self-absorbed, scared little girl with self-esteem and commitment issues of the worst kind. She's twee and far too "manic pixie dream girl" for me to really get behind her. Especially when Jack actually does start shaping up and getting his act together, and she just gets upset because he doesn't want to help her vandalize the car of an art professor who didn't like her work. I want characters I can root for or see myself in, not characters that are constantly making me roll my eyes and grate on my nerves.The real standout of this novel is the formatting. I loved the addition of sketches, photographs, walls full of text without punctuation and colored pages. It made the book itself, and not really the story, a work of art in its own right.In the end, I felt that this was a sub-par work by an author who seriously, in my mind, has the potential to write a great American novel one day. As I said earlier, Hairstyles of the Damned is such a fantastic book, and I constantly recommend it to everyone who will listen. Office Girl isn't even on the same level, and that pains me to say. Not even close. I might would rank it a step above The Boy Detective Fails, but only by a bit. For serious Joe Meno fans, I think you have to read it just to keep current on his body of work. Otherwise, I think this is a novel that would be easy to skip. Three stars.

  • Jen
    2019-02-25 01:53

    Man,I wanted to like this book. I really did. But by the end I was left sort of unsatisfied. I set down the book and thought, "That's it?" However, that's not to say I wasn't interested enough to read it pretty quickly but it left a rather bland taste in my mouth.The two main characters, Odile and Jack are both described just enough that they're somewhat believable as real people, yet vague enough to allow the reader to impress their own thoughts upon them too. Any post-college twenty-something year old could easily read into either of these characters as fictional extensions of themselves or someone they know. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. The bottom line here though is that Odile is a classic example of a "manic pixie dream girl". She's a hipster and an art school drop out without a clue of what to do with her life, but she's cute and she's quirky, a little crazy and out there, and she's everything good about the world in Jack's opinion. But she's unobtainable, and that's the problem. Jack is, for lack of a better term, pathetic. His wife left him (and after reading this, you can kind of see why), and he's trying to figure out what the hell he's supposed to be doing in this world too. And then he meets Odile, and despite some of the first words they speak to each other being about how she's not really interested in any sort of anything, Jack falls for her anyway. He follows her around like a bit of a puppy dog from one strange art project to another, and for 4 great days they live out their little fantasy of a relationship. Yet he's still so surprised when Odile decides to move away. Well, duh, kid. What did you expect?I don't know. Perhaps I just really wanted a happy ending. Or maybe I just wanted them to stop being so angsty and just do something about their feelings instead of sitting in their cubicles with their eyes averted. Either way, the book was alright. Read it on an airplane or the beach. It's that kind of book.

  • Ken
    2019-03-18 02:42

    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, his search for a menial job, and his nearly pointless long-term art project of recording sounds of the city. Part 3 finds both working at the same Muzak sales phone center, and thus begins their whirlwind relationship.At Odile's suggestion, the two start their own personal art movement, staging small events--performance pieces, one might say--at random times. Their art movement is dedicated to the temporary--their manifesto claims that anything longer than 10 seconds is bogus--and in that, the novel--which tracks just 3 weeks of otherwise unremarkable time--parallels the beliefs of its protagonists.In between art events, Odile and Jack have a lot of sex and a lot of conversations. Few of the latter go by without one or both of the characters saying, "I dunno" or "It's weird," though every now and then, Jack or Odile hits on something a bit more substantive.Office Girl was, in the end, all right. The novel is essentially a character and relationship study, but the characters are fairly static throughout the book (though there are hints of development near the end. If I had read this book when I was the age of the main characters, I think I would have loved this novel. As it is, though, I am older and unsatisfied with the lack of substance in both the characters and the story.

  • Nick
    2019-02-21 00:00

    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 personally. However, said characters and events exist just barely out of reach, in a cloud, memories too ethereal to be the personal aide the book requires. One of the protagonists, the sexy-cute eccentric art school dropout seems to exist in another time I lived in, but she would have had me stuttering and sweating in college. I suppose all of this is more telling of the way I read these types of books, the context I bring, the baggage I need to make these sorts of reads worthwhile. It has nothing to do with Meno, it's my fault, see. I've crossed that dreaded threshold where all my 'firsts' in college that I used to love to relive through evocative fiction--first love, first heartbreak, being on my own, etc--are too far away, they cant be so easily recalled. And I need to recall these for this type of novel, it's almost mandatory.

  • Santa
    2019-02-23 00:42

    Mīlas stāsts par cilvēkiem uz velosipēdiem- sweet simplicity & instant hipster staple. Uzreiz iedomājos šo grāmatu Miera ielas kafejnīcās izliktu skatlogā ar kafijas krūzi un velosipēdu aizmugurē. Sākums mani aizrāva - man galvā it kā runāja Vudijs Alens, kurš teica- nu tā tagad apskatāmies uz šo meiteni uz velosipēda zaļajā jakā, 23 gadi, nesen pametusi mācības mākslas koledžā, snieg un ir pulksten pieci pēcpusdienā… Un tad īsu epizožu veidā tiek pastāstīti fragmenti no viņas dzīves, kas parāda Odīlu (kā latviski būtu Odile?) kā diezgan vienaldzīgi noskaņotu jaunieti, kas maina darbus, piekrīt gadījuma sakariem tikai tāpēc, lai cilvēkiem viņa patiktu. Plūst pa straumi, bet grib būt īpaša. Visur brauc ar velosipēdu, skatās maz zināmas filmas un ar flomāsteriem apzīmē autobusus. Un tad ir knapi divdesmit piecus vecs jaunēklis, kurš visur staigā ar diktofonu un ieraksta skaņas, piemēram, krītoša sniega skaņu, sarunas autobusa pieturās utt. Tad skaņu kasetes sakārto kastēs, kuras krāj. Un jā, viņu tikko pametusi sieva, kurai laikam ir apnikušas kurpju kastes pilnas ar sniega skaņām un vīra nespēju pabeigt iesāktos projektus. Kaut kas melanholiski skaists ir tās skumjās, kas apvij apsnigušo Čikāgu deviņdesmito gadu beigās, es visai labi varēju iejusties aprakstītajā vidē.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-07 22:52

    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 (Odile) didn't quite captivate me. Parts felt like creative writing exercises. Long passages of internal monologue, chapters in list-form, quirky line drawings, and a Tao Lin-esque writing style felt contrived rather than original.It all pulled together once the point of view character switched to Jack. Finally, the contrivances fell away and the story and characters began to emerge. Odile and Jack ride through the snow on bicycles. They've semi-ironically started a new art movement. I was no longer annoyed with them at all. I liked them, I felt for them. I even enjoyed their fake art.

  • Sheri
    2019-03-08 22:49

    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, when one starts to be cynical IN THE WAY OF REALIZING THEY HAVE TO GO TO WORK EVERYDAY. But not the age at which one tries to start Art movements and vandalize shit. There were cute moments and it certainly is a short, easy read. But the whole thing is just too trite and the characters too immature to actually MEAN anything.

  • jenni
    2019-03-06 04:56

    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.

  • Jill
    2019-03-14 05:05

    let me sum up this book for you with a website: http://lookatthisfuckinghipster.tumbl...

  • Joshua
    2019-03-07 00:01

    This is my favorite Meno book since "Hairstyles of the Damned". I highly recommend this one!

  • karen Moore
    2019-03-16 01:59

    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
    2019-03-12 03:48

    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 with me — it gave me that indescribable "good book chill" feeling when I finished. And I haven't been able to shake it.The idea here is that Odile wants to start her own art movement, and recruits Jack to help her. Odile is against "everything popular. Anything that makes art into a commodity. Or people into commodities. Or anything that's supposed to be a commodity." So she wants to make art that is surprising, because "people in this city...nothing surprises them anymore. When you live here, there's just too much going on around you, so you don't see any of it. It's hard to get people's attention."So, they do things like ride an elevator in a downtown building wearing ski masks and holding a giant bouquet of silver balloons. Or wearing sheets with eye holes (as ghosts) on a city bus. They just want to create art that's "a moment" — that someone might remember. Jack is also working on an art project — he records sound of anything he thinks is interesting or beautiful while riding his bike around the city — a girl crying at a bus stop, or steam from a sewer, or total silence. It's similar to the guy from American Beauty, who records mundane things he finds beautiful. Jack's goal is to create a city of sounds — and when he shows Odile, she absolutely loves it.But the idea of the art is secondary to the notion that these two people are just trying to find their ways in the world, and see in each other kindred spirits and journey-mates. They spend a lot of time riding their bicycles around the city at night, through the snow, confiding in each other, and telling each other secrets they've never told anyone else. And they try to decide what the future might hold — to move forward or to keep spinning their wheels. Again, I loved this book. It's 295 pages, but really much shorter (because of page breaks, and some cool art work and photos included in the pages, as well) — I read it in two sittings. No, this novel doesn't really break any new ground in terms of theme or plot, and yes, it could be argued that it feels a bit slight. But to me, neither of those mattered. These characters and the setting (dark, brooding Chicago — the streets, the buildings, the cold, snowy nights) got their claws into me, and haven't yet let go. Highly, highly recommended — especially if you love Chicago, especially if you were in your early 20s in the late 90s, and especially if you've ever felt a bit adrift. Five stars.

  • Danelle
    2019-02-26 22:37

    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 just needed a break so I decided to finish Office Girl.And so I'm reading it and I'm thinking, "Meh". Odile is a twenty-something art school drop-out who is constantly falling into awful relationships because she wants everyone to like her. She floats from job to job and bikes around the city (Chicago). Jack is a twenty-something art school graduate who's going through a divorce and is obsessed with recording the sounds of the city as he bikes around it. Jack meets Odile at a 3rd shift job they've both taken as they don't know what else to do. And they meet. And they fall for each other. Jack joins Odile in her anti-art artistic movement, a movement where they accentuate the insignificant and surprise people. And they fall in love. And then it ends. And I realized that this was actually a really great book, another gem from Joe Meno.And the book is so small in scale - in character development, in time, just in everything. And it's just so ordinary. But then it also isn't. Jack and Odile don't know what they're going to do with their lives. They don't exactly know where they're going. This totally turned me off at first - the two hipsters biking around Chicago in 1999 trying to find their meaning of life.And then I realized sometime this afternoon while reading that I was a little jealous of Jack and Odile. After spending another morning listening to parents "cheer" their small children on at the soccer fields, I suppose I kind of missed those days of it being just me, of feeling absolutely at odds with everything, of not being too sure of what I was going to do (and was it something I was supposed to do?), of having everything ahead of me. Meno captures those feelings perfectly. Though it's not as great as The Boy Detective Fails or The Great Perhaps, it is, at least for me, as good as hairstyles of the damned.

  • Amy
    2019-03-10 21:40

    I loved this book. It had so few stars when I added it to my book list that I went and read a bunch of the reader reviews. Man. People hate this book. I'm sorry that people hate hipsters. . . though that's a word so overused at this point that I don't know what it means. I think all young twenty somethings who haven't figured it out yet and therefore are working in retail or customer service or some crap low wage job and dress one step above hobos. They cut their own hair. They make cute outfits out of secondhand things. You know why? Because it's what they can afford and they're making the best of it. Now we assume that they dress that way to be ironic. It was the best I could do when I was that age and I wasn't a snob or judgey or whatever we think hipsters are. I was just trying to figure out what was next and what the trajectory of my life should be and on some nights, at the close of the store, I had to take change out of the "have a penny, take a penny" cup to make it home on the el. I got skinny because I couldn't afford too much food. I did free city things and went to museums on free days and I almost never ever ever drank. . . because I couldn't afford to. It was hard. If you saw me then with today's eyes, you would have said, "dirty hipster," and it would have hurt my feelings.I think this book is short and simple and lovely and that the characters are brilliant. Odile isn't twee. She might just have serious problems that she thinks make her interesting, but when she's 40 might diagnose as clinical depression. Jack is a good guy trying to be better. And nobody ever tells you this, but for many many many people, your twenties are the worst. You can risk things which is great, but you're often on the edge of total financial collapse, your friendships are pretty impermanent as they move around trying to find their path. You're terribly lonely but not ready to settle down and so how do you cure that loneliness? It's rough.And I think Joe Meno has captured that perfectly here. Why are we so rough on young people? Why do we hate them when they're off kilter or unusual or lost. You were there, too, once. Try to remember.