cover image Office Girl

Office Girl

Joe Meno. Akashic, $23.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-61775-075-5

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”). If the reader doesn’t recognize the territory being mined by the time Jack and Odile begin covering their neighborhood in cryptic graffiti credited “ALPHONSE F.” Meno (Hairstyles of the Damned) equips the book with two alternate titles—Bohemians and Young People on Bicycles Doing Troubling Things—that ought to straighten things out. High on quirk and hipster cred, the novel is light as air, surprisingly unpretentious, and extremely kind to its larky, irony-addled protagonists. Meno is really the heir to Douglas Coupland, who introduced this crowd in 1991’s Generation X. However, Meno’s sympathy for his heroes’ frustrations makes his novel more than merely endearing. Agent: Maria Massie, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (July)