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Microserfs By Douglas Coupland

Reviewing: Regan Books Microserfs By Douglas Coupland  |  Rating:
chexmix By chexmix on
Badge: Author | Level: 4 | Fiction & Creative Expertise:

At the time it was written, this book was probably cutting edge and on top of many of the tech trends of the day. I didn't read it until 2007, but managed to thoroughly enjoy it anyway. At times Coupland gets a little too enamored of his pop culture references, which don't necessarily age well -- a few things went right over my head. For the most part, though, things come across with a sort of warm nostalgia for an era not long gone.

The characters are more believable than those in some of Coupland's other works, which is a nice change of pace. There's still a lot of slightly over-the-top absurdity, and a few characters barely surpass the level of caricature, but the core cast is solid and entertaining to read about.

The storyline involves twenty-somethings with secure jobs at Microsoft ... who are already bored and decide to live their lives and take risks instead of letting themselves be carried along by the easy comfort of their ensured employment. Things are mundane, overly routine, and they don't have lives, so much of the book is spent trying to figure out how not to be a loser with no life. It's not about the meaning of life, just about what it means to have a life -- socialization, taking chances, going out and doing things from time to time.

The prose is generally solid, though the author will occasionally pad the book a little with page-filling nonsense meant to be the computer's subconscious. (This is one of the main character's pretensions, technically, but since Coupland wrote it, I'm blaming him rather than the character.) His later novel, JPod, handles this far worse and without any sort of useful explanation, but here it's only a minor annoyance as opposed to a giant hidrance.

There are some truly beautiful moments in the prose, and a lot of still-insightful social commentary in addition to a strong sense of humor and satire. At points it gets a little cloying, and at other moments it's overly pretentious, but mostly it's a solid novel with a solid story and some really funny moments and characters.