Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book was recommended to me by a cute boy I wanted to get to know better so I read it. He seems to have since gone out of my life and I may not see him again, so I’m left with the book.
I haven’t read Coupland since my early 20’s, he was very much a product of the nineties and the slacker generation looking to zone out of existence. This book is no exception and while there are smart moments, the book now seems very dated and the fresh cultural references of the time a touch stale.
Coupland’s strength here is his humour and insight, played to varying degrees of success. For example, the geek humour of a line like “Tonight she has a date with a Marina District tattoo artist, so we’re all expecting her to show up tomorrow with a Pentium chip etched into her shoulder.” This geek humour appealed to me less than this line, read on a snowy winter afternoon: “God, winter is gross. I can’t believe Eskimos just don’t set themselves adrift on ice floes for the boredom of it all. Or move to Florida.”
I think another thing I disliked about the book is that I’m not 20 anymore. Lines like “What’s a bar bill but a surtax on reality” may have once held meaning, but now I can’t even be bothered to stop to think about them.
The story is charming enough that I was able to continue but I was still ready for it to be over. The book ends on a touching note, but overall the plot really goes nowhere. The central story, OOp!, is never resolved, and elements that could have been strong are burned out too quickly. For example the work at Microsoft, one of the big reasons someone would pick up this book, is finished in the first 25% and you spend the rest of the book waiting for them to go back. They never do. Similarly one of the characters falls in love with someone on the internet, never knowing their age or even their sex, and this concept could have played out to a satisfying conclusion. Instead it’s resolved in about 3 pages.
This read was a distraction, but is not recommended.
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