LaserWriter II: A Novel

This only-in-New-York story (224 pages) was published in October of 2021 by MCD. The book takes you to 1990s NYC. David read LaserWriter II and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.

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LaserWriter II

A Novel

Tamara Shopsin

Grab your messenger bag and a stack of floppies for this nostalgic ride into 1990s New York. It’s a coming-of-age story about a bright, good-hearted New Yorker named Claire and the little computer that would change the world.

It’s hard to remember now, but there was a brief, shining moment in the development of computers — somewhere on the spectrum between building-sized mainframes and the smartphone — when computers were cool and only a select (nerdy) few knew that. Now, everyone with an iPhone in their pocket knows it. But when the first Mac hit the market in 1984, it felt like a revolution.

Back in the golden-hazy days of early home computing, there was a geek haven called Tekserve. Its multiple locations on twenty-third street in New York were the place where anyone with a computer or printer on the fritz took their boxes for repairs. And the people who went there were maybe a little bit in love with their contraptions.

At the helm of Tekserve were a bunch of fuzzy, brilliant weirdos, and this story skirts the line between fiction and non, blending descriptions of real people — Hey, it’s Steve Buscemi! — with fictional characters. The heart of the story is our heroine Claire, a 19-year-old who completely buys into the promise of Apple computing and the ethos of Tekserve: ‘If you are ever in doubt, do the right thing.’

This is one of those lovely books where nothing happens and everything happens. The plot is simple to summarize: Claire gets a job, learns some things, and then moves on. But this slim volume is packed with life. It’s a portrait of New York City as a cultural hub and a place of invention and renewal. It’s the coming-of-age story of a young girl finding her way in the world. It’s a workplace drama that celebrates nice people trying to do good. And ultimately, it’s a story of hope, even when you may not be sure what you’re hoping for.

‘So why do you want to work at Tekserve?’ David asks, putting the microfloppy back in his drawer.

‘I love Macs,’ Claire says before the drawer can close.

David asks if she has any technical or mechanical ability.

She has no training but is pretty sure she is mechanical. Claire mentions drilling a hole into her desk to hold a pencil, and that she repaired her father’s gray plastic suitcase with epoxy.

‘Have you ever used FileMaker?’ David asks.

‘No, I don’t even know what it is,’ Claire answers.

The interview is over. — Tamara Shopsin

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