Pardon me if this post is not fully formed, but I've been called out, so I must comment.
Sam mentioned a sense of connection with the Oulipo in some of Monson's stories: "the interplay between order and emotion, the sense that the ability to create order, even of the most trivial kind, is our only defense against despair."
While I agree with the idea of creating order to deal with despair (in fact I just finished up a review of the wonderful French graphic novel Ordinary Victories by Manu Larcenet (NBM, 2005) whose protagonist takes photographs to capture a moment of order in his chaotic life (he suffers from seemingly random and delibitating panic attacks)), I'm not sure this creating of order is directly relevant to an oulipian type of constraining order. Or perhaps I take more to task the idea of this type of constraint as, in the end, really creating order. The end product of much oulipian work is much less ordered than one conventional expects from a novel. The organization of the constraint often brings out more elements of chance and chaos than one gets sticking to a conventional Freytag's triangle structure.
That said, in the case of Georges Perec, many consider his work an attempt to deal with his parents' death in a concentration camp. For instance, his novel La Disparition, is completely lacking the letter 'e', which in French sounds like "eux" ("them").
I see the ordering as a way to distract from despair, to reach out to other areas of the world, by forcing the artist to concentrate on following the rules. A mind in despair tends to focus on that dispair, and like playing a game, a constrained work is a distraction, an amusement, a respite.
In the case of Other Electricities, this is quite apt for the sense of fended off despair that suffuses the book and many of its narrators. It's one of the elements of the book, that sense of despair and distance, that makes the book such an engrossing and emotional read. The formal qualities of the text, the aspects of ordering (such as the index) just make it that much more novel and worthy of repeated reading.