Microserfs Up!

I finally finished my re-read of Microserfs by Douglas Coupland.  I read it the first time over a decade-and-a-half ago: once I read one of Coupland’s novels, I had to read them all.  I re-read another Coupland novel, Eleanor Rigby, during and after my Thanksgiving trip to Victoria, BC.  The re-read took a little longer than usual because it became my bus-and-downtown read.  On some level, I re-read the book to rediscover one line of dialogue that I’ve thought of often over the last 15 years (and that, it turns out, I didn’t quite remember word-for-word, but I at least got the sentiment).

Wired MicroserfsThe book is set in the early 1990s, which makes it a time capsule on almost every level.  The story is told in a diary-type form and includes all kinds of nods to the pop culture that had accumulated up until that point.  The story follows Dan and his friends and family during his time at Microsoft and then at a start-up.  There are lots of lists and quirky facts and even a good amount of usage of the old font that Macintosh computers used to use.

As with many books that I read quickly, I had forgotten the ending (the same was true for Eleanor Rigby as well as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, whose identity I still have to work hard to remember).  And it really is quite the ending because it’s out of no where but also makes perfect sense.

It’s odd, having lived through the 90s but not having read so much of the literature of the time.  No complaints, of course: it would have been totally over my head.  But I’m glad to read and re-read it now, to see what was going on in the bigger world around my own and to understand those times better.  And I appreciate Coupland’s “take” on the times (something that is also true with Dave Eggers’ take, though they are different).  Humorous, optimistic, but also aware of the ephemeral and potentially cruel.

Not quite sure what’s next for my “bus-and-downtown” read.  Might be good to take a short break from Coupland.  Then again, it’s clear that there’s some much I’ve forgotten (but also so much that I obviously enjoyed).

(1994 cover of WIRED magazine from biblio.com)

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