So soon after I read Show Stopper!, my literary travels once again take me back to Microsoft… sort of. Microserfs is a fictional story of a group of Microsoft refugees who flee to The Valley to work for a startup called Oop!
Microserfs seems to me like a book which makes certain promises with its title and premise, and then turns out to be a book completely apart from expectations. It’s a book about coders and geeks, maybe, but by a guy who seems only to know a little bit about it. It’s a character drama, first and foremost, and a “geek” book maybe 5% of the time.
Actually, Coupland’s style reminds me very much of Chuck Palahniuk’s: a bunch of implausible characters who spend an entire book doing basically nothing but spouting off pop philosophy in the form of equally implausible prose. It gets to be very irritating after a while; it begins to border on a very shallow and trite surrealism.
I understand that Microserfs is supposed to be a pretty famous novel (in some circles), and perhaps with reason. But maybe I’ve just read too much Chuck Palahniuk, or maybe I’m too jaded, or maybe I expected a computer geek novel that was actually geeky and not just trying to be geeky. It’s got all the bangs and whistles: it drops names, it pauses for bits of postmodernism, and it ostensibly seeks to know the inner heart of a bunch of people who code for a living. But it’s ultimately a fiction which doesn’t (particularly interestingly) portray its characters.
Flame me if you want, but I just can’t recommend it very heartily.