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July 6, 2012

Book Notes - Joe Meno "Office Girl"

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Joe Meno's Office Girl draws the awkward love story of two twenty-somethings with grace and empathy in this exceptional novel.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"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."

Stream a Spotify playlist of these tunes. If you don't have Spotify yet, sign up for the free service.

In his own words, here is Joe Meno's Book Notes music playlist for his novel, Office Girl:


Office Girl is about two young people in their twenties, Odile and Jack, who meet and decide to start their own art movement. The book is set over a three week period during February of 1999, a few months before the world is coming to an end. Over the course of the novel, both Odile and Jack come to negotiate the brief moments of modern life and the uncertainty of their futures. It features artwork by Cody Hudson and photographs by Todd Baxter. With this novel, we were trying to create something slightly poetic and slightly vulgar, something that felt like the best of underground rock. These songs, some of which are mentioned in the book, were inspirations for both the mood and aesthetic.


The Velvet Underground "After Hours"

A lesser-known track that features Mo Tucker on vocals. There’s something so earnest, so young about her voice that’s startling. Then the line: “Say hello to never.” I still don’t know what this means but it feels like it sums up being a nihilistic twenty-two or twenty-three year old, fighting off sleep.


Half-Japanese "Miracles Happen Everyday"

Another art school favorite. The surprise on this track is the saxophone which adds a yearning, nostalgic quality to a pretty perfect little song. For some reason, this song makes me feel young and in love.


No Age "Chem Trails"

No Age spans the marvelous netherworld between Sonic Youth and the Pixies. Their music sounds like it could have been made anytime between 1983 or 2012. This track, with its warbly synth and call and response vocals, feels like the predestined marriage of new and no wave.


Dutch Dub "Dare to Dream"

Side-project of Pretty Girls Make Graves drummer, Nick Dewitt. Again, something about the synthesizer makes it feel like mid-nineties, even though it came out in the 21st century. I think it’s about being on anti-depressives. Or Christmastime. Or both.


Scotland Yard Gospel Choir "I Pretend She's You"

Latest from this Chicago superheroes of indie rock, who get better and better with each new album. The song’s about being in love with a girl named Leigh who already has a man. As a good a love song as any, with a round of rambunctious horns near the end.


Mannequin Men "Us and All our Friends"

A spirited cover of the Pagan’s classic by Chicago indie rock stalwarts that sums about being lost in your twenties. It’s scientifically impossible not to sing along with the chorus.


The Duchess and the Duke "Strangers"

The first time I heard this track it gave me the chills. One of those rare songs where even as you’re listening to it for the first time, you feel like you already know it and love it. Distilled mid-sixties Rolling Stone heartbreak brilliance: “You fucked me in the phone booth, you know you took me by surprise.” What a line. You owe it to yourself to listen to this one.


Hunx and His Punx "If You're Not Here"

Queer-core garage rock. Sounds like the Marvelettes but with a winning rawness.


Young and Sexy "The City You Live in"

Early Twenty-First century Vancouver indie rock, this song captures the angst of living in a city you hate, working a job you despise, while all the while hoping for something, anything interesting to happen.


Guided By Voices "Don't Stop Now"

The last song GBV played at their “final” show a few years back. An anthem from one of the greatest anthem bands of our time.


Joe Meno and Office Girl links:

the author's website
excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

Chicago Reader review
Chicagoist review
Daily Beast review
Grantland review
Kirkus Reviews review
Marie Claire review
New York Journal of Books Review

Chicago Reader essay by the author about the book
Great Minds Think Aloud interview with the author
Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay by the author for The Great Perhaps
Newcity Lit interview with the author
TriQuarterly interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2012 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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