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Microserfs [Paperback]

Douglas Coupland
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Micro-talent Sept. 6 1999
By A Customer
Microserfs is a story of a group of computer coders working, and living, together. First they reside in Seattle working for Microsoft, and then they move to Palo Alto and work for Interiority, a company of them, Michael, founds to produce a program he has invented called Oop!. The story is told by Dan Underwood and written in the form of a diary. Unlike most diaries in which one would learn intimate details of another's life, here we are left with pop-computer-culture-lingo from characters as flat as an old floppy disk. The language, which tries to be clever, is rather juvenile. On some literary plain it could be argued that this stylistic element is intentional because Dan isn't a writer, but, intentional or not, this plain doesn't make the story anymore interesting to read. There is almost a seemingly inescapable potential for emotion in some elements of the story. For example, Dan's family life contains a brother who died in an accident at age 14, a middle-aged father who gets fired from his job and a mother who suffers a stroke. But these scenarios just seem to add more pages to the text. Emotion too seems to have been deleted from Coupland's repertoire. To determine if you may enjoy the book take this test. Think of your friends. Now describe them by naming 7 categories that they would consider ideal if they were on Jeopardy. Now do it to yourself. If this sounds interesting you probably would enjoy the book, as this is how Dan describes people. If not, take a few seconds out of your life and observe a moment of silence for those who don't have one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You may have lived this. Oct. 4 2003
Chances are you'll get that feeling when you read Microserfs. That warm feeling of nostalgia you get when a book so successfully transports you to a time when life was full of surprises which you thought of as mere routine, and things were more exciting than they seemed, and you were happy and clueless about everything.
Years have gone by, and looking back you can see how strange routine was, and how the cynicism of then was tame when compared to the cynicism of now. Being transported back to then gives you hope for the now, and the comfort of open arms that will hold you, and of a mouth that will whisper into your ear "There are things that you must remember." It's almost supernatural. My skin crawls.
I'm not a coder, never was. Never worked in the Silicon Valley. Lived there during the time this book takes place, but never was friends with people that remotely resembled the people this book tries to characterize. But, ah, the zeitgeist! As said elsewhere...this IS the zeitgeist. It is the zeitgeist made flesh through words. Coupland is less talented than this book allows us to conclude, but Microserfs is just sublime, and one of my favorite pieces of writing ever.
It reminds me of old videogames; empty outlets in the middle of the desert; sleepwalking through part of a technological revolution; warm microwave ovens; trashy sci-fi TV shows and Saved by the Bell reruns; clever toys that time forgot; Taco Bell restaurants; ancient DOS manuals; dusty floppy disks; healthy junk food; slow days; the golden age of Vallco Mall in Cupertino; riding Bus 81 in San Jose, and the Caltrain from Santa Clara to San Francisco; buying Lucasarts games at Fry's Electronics...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Geeks -- who can resist? July 29 2003
By A Customer
Ah, what a lovely geek book. First, I've always loved Douglas' writing.
Microserfs was the first book I read by him, and judging from his other works it's one of the few that actually makes a real 'book' Generation X & Shampoo planet (two of the writers other, early works) are just a bunch of stories strung together.
Microserfs is the story of a bunch of young 20 something geeks who work at Microsoft, all with aspirations of doing something more and finding out about their lives. A perfect allegory for young people of this generation who grew up weaned on computers.
The characters quit Microsoft to form their own start up, with dreams of making it rich (almost a modern day parable for gold rush and other explorers/entrepreneurs of the past
Along the way, they each come to learn something about themselves. While this is mostly a coming-of-age story that's been done so many times before. Coupland writes it differently.
Giving each character their top 5 Jeopardy categories, making them each so individually nuanced (one's obsessed with Xerox, etc) yet instantly relatable and understandable.
They're weird and quirky, but in the same way that any geek is. And they're not ashamed of this, reading this book if you are technically inclined, geeky, weird, etc, makes you feel less alone, part of something.
Like most Coupland books the ending is brief and abrupt, suddenly everyone's problems are solved, and they've all come to realize something about themselves. It feels more like the writer just ran out of story ideas, rather than a natural conclusion.
But the conclusion isn't the important part, it's the journey. And experiencing this very readable (yet still importantly different, with it's random computer quotations pasted in at times), and identifiable novel lets any techo-nerd feel at ease as they pass along for the ride.
Also recommended: THE LOSERS' CLUB by Richard Perez
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and moving
I re-read this book recently and was amazed by how moving and entertaining it continues to be. It's an incredible portrait of the 90s, post-internet, pre-Google era when Silicon... Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2011 by lotara
5.0 out of 5 stars Microserfs a picture of modern day Americana
Microserfs is yet another novel by canadian author Douglas Coupland set in the US. To the blind eye it would seem that Coupland is a bit obsessed with America. Read more
Published on April 14 2004 by Turquoise Hereford
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book for the geek you love or even like
This book is hilarious, and so true to life. I like how this book reprensents the characters in a way that makes them real, even likeable, and not just a bunch of nerds with... Read more
Published on March 15 2004 by "cyndiz"
5.0 out of 5 stars Society of the Spectacular
The economic system founded on isolation is a circular production of isolation. The technology is based on isolation, and the technical process isolates in turn. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars A Poignant Look at the World of "Geeks"
"Microserfs" is the story of a band of disgruntled Microsoft employees who jump ship in their quest for more fulfilling personal lives and professional challenges. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2003 by Edward P. Trimnell
5.0 out of 5 stars GR8 BK 2 RD!
Couplnd cvrs th unqly gky bt ncrdbly humn aspcts of a bnch of "nerds." Brllnt humr (ok, enough! Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I am in love with this book!
Coupland's Microserfs is a touching, tender, hilarious, real, and yes... geeky, look into the 20-something Techie culture of mid-1990s America. Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by fellicity
5.0 out of 5 stars Silicon Valley (circa 1980)
Consists of a journal by of a fictitious employee at Microsoft who moved on to greener pastures in Silicon Valley when the boom was at its highest. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 2003 by Leo Lim
5.0 out of 5 stars Geeks, and heart
On the surface this book is about a buncg of "geeks" and the early-mid 90s computer culture. Bellow the surface is a stroy about true friendship. Read more
Published on June 27 2003 by Kevin R. Wade
4.0 out of 5 stars An endearing time capsule of 90's geek life
In many ways, I'm the kind of person that Coupland tries to write about here. I've been a computer geek since childhood and have worked at dot.com startups and videogame companies. Read more
Published on June 24 2003 by Ryan
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