-by Douglas Coupland
384 pages  (1996)

Geeky perfection.

Douglas Coupland, the Canadian author best known for coining the term "Generation X", concocts a wonderful tale that would make any geek weep. 

Microserfs is narrated in the form of a journal (which in itself is appealing to me) penned by the main character, Dan Underwood (26). To set the scene, the journal starts in the fall of 1993. Underwood serves as a computer programmer for Microsoft. The entertaining plot revolves around the misadventures of he and his fellow code-crunching computer whizzes. These self-professed 'geeks', obsessed with lego, and who often lament their lack of a social life, board together at a Microsoft "dorm". 

Otherwise known as "microserfs", they spend 16-hour days coding, eating "flat" foods (ie. Kraft singles or fruit rollups, which are often passed underneath closed doors), and checking/sending email. Seizing the chance to be innovators and wanting to escape their Bill-run world, this intrepid bunch of quirky coders strike out on their own, as they form a high-tech gaming software company named Oop! located in Silicon Valley. 

Spanning about 2 years, the novel lends us the complex and often hilarious story of what life is like for these coders, living together in a sort of digital flophouse as they desperately try to "get a life" and find love amid the dislocated, subhuman whir and buzz of their digitally-driven world. 

Coupland's wit never fails to be modern, funny, to-the-point and thought-provoking. The novel itself is comical, illuminating and ultimately poignant. Indeed, literal tears welled up at the conclusion, which was an unexpectedly touching one. 

Admittedly, Microserfs is not a novel I would recommend to just anyone. Yet it is definitely a novel I personally wouldn't want to do without. One of Coupland's best, without a doubt.


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