Illustrator and memoirist Tamara Shopsin debuts as a novelist with this story set in 1990s Manhattan, where 19-year-old dreamer Claire finds herself working as a printer repair technician, coming of age alongside the Apple computer.
... a transportive, joyous read ... Shopsin, who is also an illustrator, graphic designer, and memoirist, is an acutely observant writer. She’s collected an extensive history of TekServe, from the elaborate spreads at weekly staff breakfasts to the custom intake system that warns technicians about difficult customers ... Shopsin’s narration is sharp and incisive, snarky yet kind ... By far the most interesting characters are the anthropomorphized machine parts, which form a kind of impassioned Greek chorus throughout the novel. These critical components within broken machines have emotions and sex lives, ponder the meanings of existence, and are among the most enjoyable elements in the novel. It’s like watching the Jurassic Park movies, when, by the end credits, you’re rooting for the dinosaurs.
Shopsin, wary of making her novel read like an engineering manual, even with the riveting drama of industrial design hitches, takes a creative approach, anthropomorphizing the machine’s innards in reaction to an invasive repair ... Shopsin...is clearly on comfortable ground, ambling through Claire’s existential quest in short sentences and choppy paragraphs, which create a tense rhythm, even when describing the activity around the office fish tank ... side trips down geek memory lane will delight many an elder-nerd pining for the days when Apple was still a feisty little outlier punching up in a Windows PC world, and not the $2 trillion Big Tech Bigfoot it is today. Readers wanting a more linear narrative (or those never indoctrinated into the Cult of Mac) may get fidgety with the diversions, even as context for Claire’s story ... Shopsin has a gift for capturing the minute details of a specific era in ever-evolving New York City ... It’s a crisp redraw of a time when Apple Computer was the rebellious choice, poor rebels could afford to live in the Big Apple and—in more ways than one—people found themselves offline.
Claire...invents funny, philosophical conversations among the mechanical pieces she repairs, and notices the planned obsolescence of newer products. Claire’s stint at Tekserve (where Shopsin herself once worked and the history of which she conjures faithfully in this work of fiction) sometime in the nineties makes for a charming, perceptive, refreshingly original coming-of-age story, accompanied by Shopsin’s digital illustrations.