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“He nods and takes another sniff and then hands it back to her. It feels like his brain is full of pink and blue circles, each of these circles overlapping. A phone rings and Odile pokes her head back behind the cubicle. As the Liquid Paper’s fumes quell his brain activity, Jack finds himself staring at her again and what he thinks is this: Wow.”
–From Office Girl by Joe Meno
Editor’s Note — Johnny Temple, Founding Editor, Akashic Books:
Working with Joe is a lot like reading one of his books. He treats everyone — bookstore owners, media, readers, editors, and publishers — with the same generosity with which he draws his characters. There’s always a focus on the gift of the moment, an effort to make a human connection amidst the chaos or tedium of modern life. Office Girl captures that notion expertly. Joe sets the work in 1999 to give the narrative a natural end before it even begins. It follows the lives of two twenty-somethings (to our eye, the young adult versions of Hairstyles’ high school teens) over the brief span of two months as they meet, develop a relationship, and part.
This approach forces all of their interactions into the present, and the novel as a whole is an attempt to capture a brief glimpse of life at its fullest. The main characters, Jack and Odile, have a little bit of J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey in them. The moments that linger are small moments — brief, ordinary, fleeting, and utterly beautiful.
At Akashic, we always strive to forge new relationships with authors and discover new voices, in part through our adventurous imprints like Open Lens, Chris Abani’s Black Goat Poetry series, and Dennis Cooper’s Little House on the Bowery series. The clock may have turned on Punk Planet a few years after it turned on the century, but its impact on our catalogue was scarcely fleeting. It introduced us to Joe Meno.
No small moment, that.
About Recommended Reading:
Great authors inspire us. But what about the stories that inspire them? Recommended Reading, a magazine by Electric Literature, publishes one story a week, each chosen by today’s best authors or editors.
— Lucy Goss is an intern for Electric Literature. She majors in English at Cornell University. You can follow her here.