Microserfs by Douglas Coupland

by Douglas Coupland
(HarpersCollins Publishers Ltd., Toronto: 1995)

READ: February 2005

I first tried to read Microserfs sometime during my undergrad in 1996 or 1997, and just couldn't do it. I am an on-again, off-again Douglas Coupland fan (Generation X and Life After God were great, Girlfriend in a Coma bit the big one), and just couldn't get into Microserfs way back when. And now, I have no idea why. It's a fabulous book. I couldn't read it fast enough. And when I was done, I felt emotionally drained but oh-so-happy to have made it through. So worth it.

Microserfs is the story of Dan, a programmer at, yup you guessed it, Microsoft. It takes place in the mid-1990s (1996 or so?) during the heyday of Internet and computer applications development (the first boom). And his computer nerd friends, of course. They don't do a whole lot...well, if you consider developing new products and trying to find their identities and whole raison d'ĂȘtre, is not "a whole lot". It's a remarkable well-written story that is an early foray into exploring the blurred line between narrative and technology (at the risk of sounding somewhat academic). And the ending had me in tears (but happy ones).

I gave this to my brother, who is also somewhat of a computer geek, two years ago for Christmas and he thought it was fantastic. So there.

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