A mid-level employee of a New York-based public relations firm finds his consciousness uploaded into the company's internal Slack channel. His colleagues assume it's an elaborate gag to exploit the new work-from home policy, but now that Gerald's productivity is through the roof, his bosses are only too happy to let him work from . . . wherever he says he is.
... fun, funny, addictive, and surreal. It doesn’t feel much like literature, but it does feel like any number of Slack-adjacent activities: procrastinating, eavesdropping, solving a puzzle. I blazed through it in an hour, came up for air, and then immediately blazed through it again—behavior that mystified me until I remembered how I am on Slack ... The book is a marvel of mimesis. It wonderfully captures Slack’s tropes, from the broad (anxious jokes about the boss reading one’s D.M.s) to the subtle (the use of Giphy to soften an interaction) ... He is as alert to Slackers’ individual tics—the team member who uses the 'away' status as a crutch, for example—as he is to the ambience of the program itself ... the ebb and flow of formality feels sharply observed—that is to say, realistically tricky ... (A last-act queer love story, which taps into the delight of realizing that two colleagues are seeing each other, is surprisingly satisfying.) But the benign vibe only underscores how estranging even the best offices can be, with their demands that we upload more and more of ourselves for work ... Reading the novel, I thought of a Slackian pleasure, which is the work of constructing, in your mind, a flesh-and-blood colleague from the messages she writes. Puzzling over ambiguous signs: this is literature’s game, too. Kasulke may have set out to demonstrate the inescapability of the office, but—multitasking like most of us—he also reveals the stickiness of fiction.
In this gloriously inventive debut, Kasulke has constructed a funny, tender, and compelling novel that consists entirely of messages on the workplace app Slack ... This is a workplace comedy that brilliantly captures the era of remote work ... Kasulke turns what sounds like a gimmicky premise, and a limiting one at that, into a poignant depiction of the always-on nature of the contemporary workplace. Kasulke’s ear for dialogue is remarkable as he truly captures the in-jokes, asides, and odd language of Slack communication. Funny, relatable, and incredibly timely, this is a hugely entertaining read.
Light topicality follows this high-concept premise, including commentary on late capitalism’s internet-aided work/life imbalance and the fiction of modern communication, but it’s Kasulke’s execution rather than his ideas that recommends this work. The author masters mood, inflecting his comedic core with bits of surreal horror, and demonstrates a keen ear for lingo, expressly humorous without ever forsaking authenticity. He likewise proves deft at depicting the particular rhythms of group chats, with all communication here existing within a haze of disruption. Admittedly, this comes at the expense of any real characterization, which plays third fiddle to the novel’s formal playfulness and puckish conceit, but if the novel never rises above a trifle, it’s at least a delicious one ... Existing in the slipstream of humanity’s and technology’s mutual march forward, this is a welcome if lightweight oddity that cuttingly observes the horror and humor of the modern condition.