Office Girl

Office Girl

Hardback

By (author) Joe Meno

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  • Publisher: AKASHIC BOOKS
  • Format: Hardback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 186mm x 20mm | 340g
  • Publication date: 3 July 2012
  • ISBN 10: 1617750751
  • ISBN 13: 9781617750755
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,207,231

Product 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.

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Author information

Joe Meno is a fiction writer and playwright who lives in Chicago. He is a winner of the Nelson Algren Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Great Lakes Book Award, and was a finalist for the Story Prize. He is the author of five novels and two short story collections including "The Great Perhaps, The Boy Detective Fails, Demons in the Spring, " and "Hairstyles of the Damned." His short fiction has been published in "One Story, McSweeney's, Swink, LIT, TriQuarterly, Other Voices, Gulf Coast," and broadcast on NPR. His nonfiction has appeared in the "New York Times" and "Chicago Magazine." His stage plays have been produced in Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Charville, France. He is an associate professor in the Fiction Writing Department at Columbia College Chicago.

Review quote

"The talented Chicago-based Meno has composed a gorgeous little indie romance, circa 1999...When things Get Weird as things do when we're young, Meno is refreshingly honest in portraying 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. Plot notes: It's 1999 and Odile and Jack are partying like it was...well, you know. Meno's alternative titles help give the gist: Bohemians or Young People on Bicycles Doing Troubling Things. Cross-media: Drawings and Polaroids provide a playful, quirky element." --"Marie Claire" "Odile and Jack are...two characters in search of authentic emotion...their "pas de deux" is...dynamic. Meno's plain style seems appropriate for these characters and their occasions, and the low-key drawings and amateur photographs that punctuate the narrative lend a home-video feel to this story of slacker bohemia, the temp jobs, odd jobs and hand jobs." --"Chicago Tribune" "Meno's book is an honest look at the isolation of being a creative person in your twenties living in a city...Cody Hudson's hand-drawn illustrations, which relate to the text only laterally, add a charm akin to the small doodles that break up long "New Yorker" articles. The photos by Todd Baxter add a third level to the package, helping to make Meno's book feel more like an artwork." --"The Daily Beast," "3 Must-Read Offbeat Novels" "A beguiling and slyly disquieting storyteller, Meno forges surprising connections between deep emotion and edgy absurdity, self-conscious hipness and timeless metaphysics. 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. With bicycles in the snow emblematic of both precariousness and determination, Meno's charming, melancholy, frank and droll love story wrapped around an art manifesto both celebrates those who question and protest the established order and contemplates the dilemmas that make family, creativity, ambition and love perpetually confounding and essential." --"Kansas City Star" "A wispy, bittersweet (emphasis on the bitter, not the sweet) romance, "Office Girl" is the story of Odile and Jack, a pair of alienated twentysomething bohemians whose artistic ambitions are being worn away by one soul-killing call-center job after another in Chicago." --"Chicago Sun-Times" ""Office Girl" is a bittersweet little love story framed by Bill Clinton's 1999 impeachment trial and the turn of the millennium...By letting his characters be emotionally vulnerable, even shallow or trite--which is to say...real--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" "Meno's books have become increasingly liminal and idiosyncratic. In this latest, it feels as if Meno has written the book he's been wanting to write for years, combining all of those classic elements of his previous work: the stop-and-start of youthful inertia, the painful purity of romance, the way childhood informs (i.e. wrecks) us as adults and a direct prose cut into vignettes and montage. He also works with longtime collaborators photographer Todd Baxter and painter Cody Hudson...Gorgeously packaged, it's like a Meno box set 15 years in the making." --"Time Out Chicago" "It might be a standard boy-meets-girl tale, if not for the fact that the boy likes to record the sounds of gloves abandoned in snowdrifts, while the girl has a penchant for filling elevators with silver balloons. It's 1999. Odile has left grad school while Jack's wife has recently left him; after both stumble into jobs at the same telemarketing firm, they meet, and it isn't long before he is supporting her attempt to create a whimsical, anti-establishment art movement." --"Time Out New York" ""Office Girl" might be Joe Meno's breakthrough novel. Set in 1999, "Office Girl" tells the story of a pair of young, intelligent drifters who decide to start their own art movement. It's a stripped-down experience of a novel which means Meno's crystalline prose has a chance to shine." --"The Stranger" ""Office Girl" is a relatively simple love story: You know most of the beats and understand from the beginning how the story needs to end; the pleasure comes from the way Meno hits those beats, how he manages his characters and moments. And some of those moments are really excellent: Jack and Odile's drift toward a first kiss, for instance, or their lovers' conspiracy, mirrored in Cody Hudson's naive drawings. And the heavier ideas that Meno stuffs into the corners around his self-consciously slight characters--like an ongoing struggle with sound and music that's part of the last-act climax--give the book more weight." --"Philadelphia City Paper" "A lithe, winking take on the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl cliche, Meno's newest novel is like "Perks of Being a Wallflower" for the 20-something set--and just like that iconic novel of creatives-in-crisis, this one is quirky, clever, and full of bitten tongues and youthful dreaming. Add bicycles, fingerless gloves, and one of the most twee art projects we could have ever imagined, and you've got a charming and unpretentious hipster love story destined to be the next cult classic." --"Flavorwire" ""Office Girl" shelves neatly into the anti-establishment, punk-rock canon Meno created with books like his breakthrough, "Hairstyles of the Damned."" --Onion A.V. Club "Mr. Meno approaches his title character's potentially depressing combination of disadvantageous circumstances and poor choices with sufficient aesthetic distance to find levity amid the angst. And while "Office Girl" is a quick and easy read, it is not insubstantial." --"New York Journal of Books" "While "Office Girl" features illustrations by artist Cody Hudson and photographs by Todd Baxter, its real substance lies in the story itself. Set in Chicago right before the new millennium, Meno, a Chicagoan, explores the start of an art movement through the eyes of two twenty-something dreamers in this novel." --"Michigan Avenue Magazine" "Joe Meno's newest novel "Office Girl," isn't some end-of-the-Millennium gloomy read. Rather it's an unconventional call to action encapsulating the lives of two 'creative souls' set adrift in urban Chicago at the end of the twentieth century...Don't be fooled by its lack of chapters and intermittent doodles, there are sections that you will likely have to reread before you can truly grasp Jack and Odile's motivations. At times it can even be a bit disheartening, but that is actually what makes "Office Girl" brilliant. Whether you are 13 or 30, it's the perfect book to pick up when that nagging feeling of unrest captures you over your current condition." --"Revel Rouse Magazine" "I was completely charmed by its boy-meets-quirky girl romance. "Office Girl" is unabashedly earnest. It's so sweet and sincere...The most important detail is the year: 1999, a moment of uncertainty in the world and the lives of the novel's couple...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. It's emotionally affective and its scenes are sometimes too familiar, as if you have once been here yourself, in this same office, in that same bedroom, on that same street. It's the tale of a weeklong romance that cuts to the heart. At times you remember it like it was your own. Both Jack and Odile suffer from their own inability to translate their thoughts into words, and they possess a certain innocent, curious sexuality. There's nothing graphic here, but the feelings are laid bare. And, as if in a dream, you can watch those feelings winding themselves through Jack and Odile's increasingly complex layers of consciousness...It's a specific book about general rite of passage; an investigation of that strange, dream-like transition between youth and adulthood, where everything seems possible and terrifying and wonderful all at once. 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 "Wistful, heartbreaking, and melancholy, a sneakily tight manuscript that gets better and better the farther you read." --Chicago Center for Literature and Photography "With a format reminiscent of J.D. Salinger's "Franny and Zooey," "Office Girl" lets the reader develop his own ideas about each of the two characters...There is a spark. There is momentum." --"The Wichita Eagle" "The book is a love story but one with a different twist on your typical boy-meets-girl, then boy-loses-girl story..."Office Girl" by Joe Meno has an indie feel...Meno captures perfectly the fleeting thoughts of fancy of young people...Set in the whimsical, uncertain time of young adult life when you don't know what you are doing yet...What happens next is just like love...unpredictable. Joe Meno has done a remarkable job of capturing an age old story, in a brand new way. This is a bright read." --"California Literary Review" "The writing in this novel is crisp and clever. It's art that's at times beautiful without getting in the way of the story. Chicago becomes a character in the novel the way it does in the works of Nelson Algren and Saul Bellow, but it's Chicago that is between Algren's gritty streets and Bellow's upscale avenues...It's the kind of book that makes you blow off what you're supposed to be doing so you can keep reading." --"Razorcake" "Young love. Bicycles. Art school. Joe Meno's hipster romance about a couple going against the grain bubbles with funny dialogue and the charm of a French new wave movie (chalk it up to the whole defiant-youth-run-wild thing). Black-and-white illustrations by artist Cody Hudson and photos by up-and-comer Todd Baxter set the mood." --DailyCandy "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" "I'm terrible, I bail on most books. Recent ones that delighted me the whole way through were..."Office Girl" by Joe Meno." --Maria Semple, author of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette," in the "New York Times Book Review"'s "By the Book" feature