by Douglas Coupland
I admit, I have a soft spot for Douglas Coupland’s books. I don’t always like them (Miss Wyoming did nothing for me) and even when I do, I know they are the retro-aware diner food of fiction (All Families Are Psychotic). Microserfs has been a favorite since I first read it — a shocking to me eleven years ago now.
I reread this book every year or two, usually when I’ve been feeling a bit down, and it always makes me feel better — it consistently delivers as comfort food. Back when I first read it, I hadn’t worked in tech yet, but I still recognized the twentysomething, don’t really have a life, lusting after something new and meaningful set of characters, because that was me. I caught the references, and was torn between admiration for Coupland pulling off things like the unconsciousness file and occasionally verging on just filler typographic stunts, and anger at myself for not thinking of it first. (I was still irritatingly aware of how much I was not writing, post-undergraduate fiction workshops.)
So yeah, it’s about the young adult struggle for meaning, ridiculous jobs, true love, real life, zeitgeist, yadda yadda yadda… It’s too awkward and too lucky and too pat and overreaching at the very end, and I so don’t care. I still love lego, and I still love this book.
If you’ve ever worked in tech (or spent time near tech, or as a tech worker wannabe) and just happen to be a gen X geezer yourself, you’ll recognize not-so-grand swaths of territory in this book. You may even grow to love it. Highly recommended: think beach reading for the geek set. You know, if we spent more time outdoors, unplugged.