Sunday, May 11, 2008


Microserfs by Douglas Coupland was originally published in 1995. My hardcover copy has 371 pages. Microserfs is written as if it is the diary of Dan, who, as the book opens, is a programmer for Microsoft. The book follows the adventure as he and his fellow friends/code monkeys leave Microsoft for a start up software company in Silicon Valley. The first half of the book is actually more enjoyable than the second half, but Coupland has a clever way with words so its a book worth finishing. I'm rating it a 3.9.

Synopsis from cover:
Microserfs: a hilarious, fanatically detailed, and oddly moving book about a handful of misfit Microsoft employees who realize they don't have lives and subsequently become determined to get lives inside the lightning-paced world of high-tech 1990's American geek culture.

Amid a Seattle backdrop of software corporate cultishness ("B-B_B_B_Bill!") and the financial terror of San Francisco and Silicon Valley tech startups, the members of Coupland's quirky ensemble, "stick a piece of dynamite inside themselves, like a cartoon cat, in the hopes that when they reassemble their exploded pieces they will be somebody different."

Coupland gives readers an intimate, deadly accurate, and very funny view of a way of life: friends, families, and lovers falling through the trapdoors of the new electronic order and becoming involved in an engaging, awkward scramble toward love and success in a brave new world.

"They mow the lawn every ten minutes at Microsoft. It looks like green Lego pads." pg. 2

"He often uses low-tech solutions to high-tech problems: Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and little strips of paper that turn on a bent coat hanger frame help him solve complex matrix problems. When he moved offices into his new window office (good coder, good office), he had to put Post-it notes reading "Not Art" on his devices so that the movers didn't stick them under the glass display cases out in the central atrium area." pg. 13

"This morning before heading to the office I read an in-depth story about Burt and Loni's divorce in People magazine. Thus, 1,474,819 brain cells that could have been used toward a formula for world peace were obliterated." pg. 14

"I sandpapered the roof of my mouth with three bowls of Cap'n Crunch - had raw gobbets of mouth-beef dangling onto my tongue all day. It hurt like crazy, and made me talk with a Cindy Brady lisp until late afternoon." pg. 25

"If you yourself are a vegetarian, but still dream of burgers, then all you really are is a cryptocarnivore." pg. 48

"The Fry's chain completely taps into MSE: Male Shopping Energy. This is to say that most guys have about 73 calories of shopping energy and once these calories are gone, they're gone for the day - if not the week - and can't be regenerated simply by having an Orange Julius at the Food Fair. Therefore, to get guys to shop, a store has to eat up all of their MSE calories in one crack-like burst. Thus, Fry's concentrates only on male-specific consumables inside their cavernous shopping arena, aisles replete with dandruff, bad outfits, and nerdacious mutterings full of buried Hobbit references." pg. 185

"He said that when future archaeolgists dig up the remains of California, they are going to find all of these gyms and all of this scary-looking gym equipment, and they're going to assume that we were a culture obsessed with torture." pg. 259

"They were just the sort of people who would have gone to Los Vegas, not Boulder, in The Stand, and here they were." pg 346

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