If you are a computer geek like me, you will appreciate a book detailing the struggles of a start-up computer company in Silicon Valley at the start of the 80s.
Mix in a wedding crasher, a sexy biker and a rich heiress and the struggle to dominate a market which is just emerging and you find yourself in the geekiest romance of the century.
It’s all about the beginnings of personal computers with empassioned nerds working in their garages, and at the same time it’s about a woman who is trying to free herself from her past and rigid need to please.
Published in January 1991, the book is too old to see exactly how BIG home computing has become in the last 20 years, to see that the praised home computer is now really an every-day item, that the vision of a man brought something to all of us that we can use.
Mix in tons of reference to Apple (and Steve Jobs and Wozniac) and laugh as these people look amazed at games like “Space Invaders” and colour screens. This book is like reading about the origins of a microwave or a toaster. You see it everyday now but you never thought how it came to be.
While the story was about the evolution of the computer industry, it could have been the start of any business. I have to admit though, being in the technology field, this did appeal to me.
It was a great story of the journey of a group of 4 young friends (each different types of people with different backgrounds) with ideas about the future and who they are, and who they ultimately become. They set off to change the world and as they find out who they are in the process.
The story centers mostly around Suzanne (Susie), a very smart 25 year old from an aristocratic family that follows the rules, but is very passionate and is dying to come out of her shell. She does this in a dramatic way was becoming a runaway bride, leaving everything to be with a man she is drawn to Sam and his dreams. Sam (age 24) is the kind of guy who has great visions for the future is also extremely passionate. He doesn’t think of the details and often gets ahead of himself. He likes to live on the edge and anything else is just plain dull.
He works with a college buddy Yank, who is a techie to the core, often zoning out to think of a new board design. Yank’s not interested in the big picture but he does like technology, often favouring it to big breasted women! He doesn’t seem to have an emotional side, but we find that is not the case. They take on a partner, Mitch (31) very technical, business savy and successful, who is just coming off a break up with his wife and is looking for something new and challenging. All 4 are very passionate, in similar, but different ways. They compliment each other and build a successful start-up business together.
Then there’s Paige, Suzanne’s estranged sister, Angela (Sam’s Mom) and Suzanne’s dad, Joe. They all add to the great cast of characters that are so vividly drawn that you can see who they really are. And really, I have to say that I loved each of these characters, in spite of or because of their faults. Since she ran away at her wedding, her sister Paige, who used to be a hard-core, hair-whipping rock star wannabe became her father’s trusted and obedient daughter, looking prim like a dowager lady. Joe, Susie’s father, became ill after cutting her daughter out of his life and refused to talk to her. He was cold and relentless, waiting for her business to fail and for her to come crawling back to him and beg for his forgiveness.
When, in spite of all odds, her little business venture seems to survive, he can barely sleep and complains about stabbing pains in the left arm. He dies in Angela’s presence while in Memphis – the two of them ended up in a road-trip together to pay their respects to the King who died.
Joe, in his last moments, was overtaken by regret for not having made up with his daughter and wished to call her the moment he got back into his office. Unfortunately, he could not make it… Moral of the story – tell your loved ones you love them and never keep an argument. It festers in you until it kills you.
“…Any fool can love somebody who’s perfect, somebody who does everything right. But that doesn’t stretch your soul. Your soul only gets stretched when you can still love somebody after they’ve hurt you.” – Angela
I have to say that there were certain aspects of the story that brought me to tears and it didn’t have anything to do with the romantic aspects of the story. Sometimes being close to certain people can make you a better and a stronger person. There are also things that you love most about a person that also be the very things that can tear you apart.
I don’t want to give too much away of about this story, but I can tell you as I sit here a little misty right now, I will be thinking about it for a while. It’s one of those stories that will stick with me for a very very long time…..One of my top 10 reads of all time.