13.07.19 / Modern Fiction / Self-Published / Paperback / 216pp / 978-0473485740
From a former Guardian and BBC writer, and author of The Donated, comes a hilarious story of mid-life crisis, family, technology, and coping with the modern workplace.
Jack Cooper is a depressed, analogue throwback; a cynical, alcoholic Gen-Xer whose glory days are behind him. He’s unemployed, his marriage has broken down, he’s addicted to internet hook-ups, and is deeply ashamed of his son Geronimo, who lives life dressed as a bear.
When Jack’s daughter engineers a job for him at totally-lit tech firm Sweet, he’s confronted by a Millennial and Zoomer culture he can’t relate to. He loathes every detail – every IM, gif and emoji – apart from Freya, twenty years his junior and addicted to broadcasting her life on social media.
Can Jack evolve to fit in at Sweet, or will he remain a dinosaur stuck in the 1980s? And will he halt his slide into loneliness and repair his family relationships?
Customer service call
Customers are ringing in for help and the Liaison Agents are being overwhelmed. We listen to a tape.
Customer: It’s not working.
LA: Which experience have you selected?
Customer: I don’t know what you mean by experience.
LA: What’s your account tariff?
Customer: I think it’s about three pounds a month.
LA: Yes but what tariff is that?
Customer: Like I said, three pounds a month.
LA: Please open your account settings.
Customer: How do I do that?
LA: Click the little spanner in the right-hand corner.
Customer: But it’s only small. I’m not sure my finger can click on the right hand corner of the spanner.
LA: Caller, are you on a mobile device?
Customer: Yes, I can move it.
LA: No, are you on a phone or a tablet?
Customer: Yes, I’m on the phone.
LA: So in top right corner of your phone is a little spanner-
Customer: The top right corner of my phone has a disconnect symbol. But your website has a spanner on it. What do you mean?
It could be a set up, a comedy show about the ‘computer says no’, except we listen to call after call of the same sort of thing. The customer simply doesn’t care about the way Sweet is carving up its clients into demographic accounts or options or tariffs no matter how much they are told of the benefits, or services or Fabulous Friyay Offers they are missing out on. They don’t care because they are over it.
About William Knight
William Knight has written for the Guardian, the Financial Times and the BBC, among many other publishers. He is a journalist and technologist currently living and working in Wellington, New Zealand.
A graduate engineer, he’s chased a varying career starting in acting, progressing to music, enjoyed a brief flirtation with handbag design, and was eventually wired into technology in 1989.
By 2003 his non-fiction was being regularly published in Computing newspaper in the UK, and he has since written about the many successes and failings of high-technology
The Donated (formerly, Generation), his first novel, was conceived from a New Scientist article in 2001 and was ten years in development. Subsequent novels, XYZ, Foretold, The Fractured, will be available, he says, “Sometime in the future. Hopefully not as long as ten years.”