Coupland's latest looks at lives of software serfs


From The Toronto Star (May 13, 1995)

by Beverley Slopen

Douglas Coupland, the Vancouver author who gave us Generation X and Shampoo Planet, now brings us Microserfs (HarperCollins), a novel set in the computer industry about the way the new information technology alters personal relationships.

To remain true to the spirit of the novel, which is written as PowerBook diary entries from an ex-Microsoft employee, Coupland asks to be interviewed via e-mail. It's not that he prefers it to talking. "The 'interview' has become an almost antique form of information formatting," he says.

Here, then, are Coupland's Internet responses to assorted questions, with the grammar and spelling mistakes tidied up:

On the creative wellspring for Microserfs: "Microsoft is only two hours south of where I live. Bill Gates and the bulk of the people who work there are the same age as I am and come from the same background. So I was curious to see what sort of construct they were making manifest. Microserfs was supposed to be a 1,500-word article for Wired magazine. It became a 110,000-word novel."

It is easy on the Internet to avoid answering questions, which may be why the author likes it so much. Coupland, 33, born on the Canadian Armed Forces Base at Baden-Sollingen, West Germany, makes his home in Vancouver. He is reticent about revealing details about his personal life. "I travel too much, so Vancouver is my sanctuary. I don't want to lose it, so I don't discuss it. Too US-magaziney." he replies.

Asked to chat about his typical day, he replies: "My day? Late to bed and late to rise, makes Doug's life a continual surprise. I can't tolerate mornings. I haven't eaten breakfast since the Reagan administration. I don't thrive on routine or repetition, so I avoid all patterning in my days/weeks/months/years."

He also doesn't want to talk just yet about the TV series he is co-writing for Fox.

The verdict on my first e-mail Internet interview? A plea from Generation A (for Antique) to Generation X on information formatting: "Talk to me, please!"