Boy meets dot-com, boy falls for dot-com, boy flees dot-com in horror. So goes one of the most perversely hilarious love stories you will ever read, one that blends tech culture, hero worship, cat litter, Albanian economics, venture capitalism, and free bagels into a surreal cocktail of delusion.
In 1998, when Amazon.com went to temp agencies to recruit people, they gave them a simple directive: send us your freaks. Mike Daisey -- slacker, onetime aesthetics major, dilettante -- seemed perfect for the job. His ascension from lowly temp to customer service representative to business development hustler over the course of twenty-one dog years is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares.
With lunatic precision, Daisey describes the lightless cube farms in which book orders were scrawled on Post-its while technicians struggled to bring computers back online; the fourteen-hour days fueled by caffeine, fanaticism, and illicit day-trading from office desks made from doors; his strange compulsion to send free books to Norwegians; and the fevered insistence of BizDev higher-ups that the perfect business partner was Pets.com -- the now-extinct company that spent all its assets on a sock puppet.
In these pages, you'll meet Warren, the cowboy of customer service, capable of verbally hog-tying even the most abusive customer; Amazon employee #5, a reclusive computer gamer worth a cool $300 million, who spends at least six hours a day locked in his office killing goblins; and Jean-Michele, Mike's girlfriend and sparring partner, who tries to keep him grounded, even as dot-com mania seduces them both. At strategic intervals, the narrative is punctuated by hysterically honest letters to CEO Jeff Bezos -- missives that seem ripped from the collective unconscious of dot-com disciples the world over.
21 Dog Years is an epic story of greed, self-deception, and heartbreak, a wickedly funny anthem to an era of bounteous stock options and boundless insanity.
In 1998, Daisey gave up his life of frequenting cafes, temping and participating in small-time theater to join an up-and-coming bookseller called Amazon.com. Here, he offers a kind of workplace coming-of-age memoir the young hero comes to terms with his ambition, synthesizes it with his liberal arts education and finally spits it out. All the dot-com punching bags are here: the lampooning of new economy jargon, the girlfriend worrying about her boyfriend's sudden obsession with the company picnic, and jokes about Pets.com. What saves the book from being an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel is Daisey's sharp eye: he renders even banal corporate moments with energy and wit. (On a clueless colleague: "No one does tai chi at ten am in front of their coworkers around a coffee kettle unless they want to be hated.") Class-conscious to the point of obsession he has ambivalent thoughts about his "startlingly sharp, attractive" managers and dreams of "social hacking" his way into becoming a Net executive Daisey flirts with a broader social critique of bourgeois values. Still, his incessant flippancy blocks real insight. At the end, when an imaginary e-mail to CEO Jeff Bezos turns unexpectedly vicious, readers may wonder how a man so aware of and so glib about his employer's flaws comes to play the role of the exploited proletarian. Still, Daisey's talent for the punch line, along with his facility for sketch comedy, makes the book an enjoyable, if unedifying, experience, like an afternoon playing foosball.
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A personal but very informative look from inside the dot-com boom. Daisey wields symbolism and wit like a master swordsman and will make you wonder at what the future may hold for the Internet-based commerce just coming out of its infancy.