“Office Girl” by Joe Meno (2012) – 289 pages
I expect this review of “Office Girl” will be quite short, because I rarely read novels that are as inconsequential as this one. “Office Girl” is the story of Jack and Odile, a guy and a girl in their early twenties who work at a phone bank for a telemarketer in Chicago in 1999. Both Odile and Jack consider themselves artists, and they are open to doing playful and weird artistic things which is probably why they hook up in the first place.
Early on while listening to the audio book of “Office Girl”, I almost gave up on it; it seemed to lack any significance whatsoever, just a story of two eccentric characters. There was little local color from its setting in Chicago and little of that time in the Nineties that set it apart. The novel seemed to be saying that the late Clinton era was the final time in the United States when people could still afford to be artistic and offbeat and the last time it wasn’t dangerous to be different.
However there is a certain appeal to this freaky romantic story that kept me listening. This novel has no overwhelming message, no life changing or affirming theme or plot. But if you as the reader just stay in the here and now and listen to these two quirky young people interact, you probably will be charmed like I was. “Office Girl” reminded me that the ultimate destination is not that important; it is the small pleasures along the way. The novel is also illustrated with photographs and pencil drawings, a nice touch.
“Office Girl” will not make my ‘Best of Year’ list, but it is an entertaining enough diversion, an enjoyable way to spend some time. Not every novel has to be earth shattering or enervating.