At the start of LaserWriter II we’re introduced to Claire, who’s 19 and applying for a job at Tekserve, an old-school, pre-Genius-Bar computer/printer repair shop that used to be on 23rd Street. We learn that Claire grew up in a household loyal to Apple from the start: they had the “first Mac, and an Apple IIc before it, and then whatever computer Apple made next, forever.” I grew up in a PC family, so my earliest computer memories are of a black screen with the C prompt, but I relate to the sentiment nevertheless: my first Apple computer was one of the clamshell iBooks, which I got just before I started college, and I haven’t bought a PC since. (And I definitely remember bringing a computer to Tekserve, though I can’t remember if it was that first laptop or a later one.)

So, right: Claire gets the job, and the rest of the book is the story of Claire’s time at Tekserve, interspersed with other things: we get Tekserve’s origin story (which is pretty great), and references to the early days of Apple itself, and little bits of other parts of Claire’s life, and also some sections from the point of view of some of components of the printers that Claire is working on. I think the parts of the book that are directly focused on Claire and her experiences are the strongest, as opposed to the snippets we get of the lives of other Tekserve employees: I like the way that the events of any given day at Tekserve prompt recollections of other places, other moments. Like: working on a computer mouse makes Claire think of an experience with actual mice when she was younger, or taking in a repair from someone who works at Columbia makes Claire think of a philosophy class she snuck into after she found someone else’s student ID.

I like the descriptions of Tekserve as a space “full of people and machines, old and new” with “pressed tin ceilings and wood floors” where “wooden theater seats snap open and shut.” I like the descriptions of a pre-gentrification East Village of squats and Food Not Bombs and basement punk shows. And I love this description of Columbia’s campus: “Black iron gates opened to a perspective drawing of green lawns and white columns. Students sat in circles under sun-dappled light. The air was clean and weightless. Shadows were cast not from skyscrapers but from sundials, sculptures, and sycamore trees.”

I also like this book’s sense of humor, which is understated but excellent. Like this, about a band named Hookworm68: “The “68” was to suggest the French Situationists, not the sex act minus 1.” Or how the PRINTER FAQ used by Tekserve is “spiked with tiny jokes”, leading to this: “Joel replaces the LaserJet’s fan. The PRINTER FAQ told him to do this because the fan (much like capitalism) has a design flaw that makes it eventually fail.” Or how a bottle of Snapple is described thus: “The flavor is iced tea, with a plot twist of fake lemon.” I didn’t love this book the way I loved Mumbai New York Scranton or Arbitrary Stupid Goal, but I did like it, and I’m glad I read it.

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