Microserfs, Douglas Coupland; loaned out, never to be returned. I remember this book as being relatively entertaining. I mostly recall the design of the book–very cool, playful, and ahead of its time. This book will be more interesting in twenty or twenty-five years. Coupland’s site: beautiful. 


2 thoughts on “Microserfs”

  1. Microserfs was a revolution for me. A welcome break from the loads of Steinbeck and Kafka and Kerouac I was reading at the time. It was a futuristic TV sitcom full of smart, wisecracking, brittle people who designed software (?!) for the man, eventually daring to launch their own start-up in the Valley.

    Coupland’s software soap opera appeared years before the dot-com blitzkrieg (he wrote in 1994 i think) and introduced a few key archetypes of the industry: the hermetic visionary; the Taurus-driving/TV-quoting/apocalypse-fearing gentle geek; the protein shake-drinking couple from Planet TanFastic; etc. But its metaselfawareness elevated it beyond cliche. The characters felt and spoke and laughed in such REAL ways.

    Plus, included in every chapter was a page of “media noise,” random linkage (HYPER links, perhaps?) of dissociated phenomena: corporate slogans, pharmaceutical names, line code. The links were splattered all over the noise pages using simple but creative typography. It’s where I got the name for one of my Buenos Aires songs, “Multi-User Dungeon.” (I’ve created a few of these pages myself, “meta-maps” I call them, as a simple, nonlinear writing exercise. Try it out sometime.)

    When I started working in the software industry, I was surprised to occasionally see Microserfs propped up on an art director’s (but rarely a programmer’s) bookshelf. The characters were so real that finding out other people had read the book was like discovering mutual friends among friends (“You know Dan? Crazy, I’ve been friends with him for years…” etc.). A good feeling, especially for someone like me who rarely shares pop lit/TV/movie references with the coworkers.

    Brilliant book.


  2. You actually turned me onto this book, Bob. I remember reading parts of it at your old apartment in San Marco. Along with Girl With Curious Hair, it was an introduction to a new type of literature beyond the beat lit, classic lit, and cyberpunk I was consuming. I have to admit that nothing else he’s done has held much interest for me…but perusing his website piques my interest. Any suggestions?


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