A work-from-home, comic tour-de-force that takes place entirely in a PR firm's Slack channels--a strange digital landscape where an employee claims to be literally trapped inside. For fans of Office Space, Then We Came to the End and Severance. And anyone who has ever struggled with an emoticon.
Gerald, a mid-level employee of a New York-based public relations firm, has been uploaded into the company's internal Slack channels--at least his consciousness has. His colleagues assume it's just an elaborate ploy to exploit their lax work-from-home policy, but now that his productivity is through the roof, they are only too happy to indulge him. Disembodied and alarmed by the looming abyss of an eternity on-line, Gerald enlists his co-worker Pradeep to find out what happened to his body and help him escape. As Gerald plunges deeper into the surprisingly expansive Slack landscape, he finds an unlikely ally in Slackbot, Slack's AI assistant, who helps him navigate his new digital reality. Meanwhile, the team's real-world problems are in danger of snowballing out of control. Top client Bjärk dog food might be poisoning Pomeranians across the country; someone is sabotaging the boss's office furniture; Tripp and Beverly are breaking the unspoken rule against office romances; and the incessant howling of wild dogs is starting to drive Lydia insane. Also: Why is Slackbot so interested in Gerald? And what in the hell does the :dusty-stick: emoji mean? Hilarious, irreverent, and wholly original, Calvin Kasulke's Several People Are Typing is a satire of both corporate and contemporary life, and a perfect antidote to the way we live now.
Gerald is having a very bad time. He's been working from home, but his productivity is up so his boss isn't really bothered. Some of the staff is annoyed that he keeps sending them messages asking them to check on his body at home, due to him somehow being uploaded into the companies internal Slack channel. I mean he's taking this joke a bit too far, what with always being online, keeping the joke going for way too long and even somehow having his body lying at home unconscious as he's still typing away… oh, wait, he's serious.
"Several People Are Typing" is an extremely bizarre little book. It's an office comedy, it's a horror story and it's all written in the form of group chats from the various work channels. While Gerald's story is the focus, there's a lot more weird supernatural goings on in these chats, including a possible office worker who doesn't exist, people being infected by some sort of emoticon virus where they have trouble speaking in anything else (and that the hell is a "dusty-stick" emoticon? FINE OUT HERE!) and various other less dangerous shenanigans.
This is an extremely amusing little book, though it probably helps that I work with a program like Slack on a regular basis, so both the humor and supernatural aspects worked well for me. I'm sure some will be frustrated by it being written like a chat log, but I personally found that part of the fun. My biggest issue is some of the unexplained bits still, all in all a very fun read. Not one I can suggest for everyone, but I had a blast with it. 4/5 stars
"I can help by answering simple questions about how Slack works. I'm just a bot, though!"["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
A book written all in slack channel messages! With lots of emojis and gifs! And slackbot is a (consequential) character!
One the one hand, this feels a bit like a gimmick that will be really dated in a decade (remember those epistolary books written all in emails? Or texts?). On the other hand, there is a lot of depth to the office relationships and this pretty much accurately describes 80% of my daily communication over the past year at work, so it feels like it captures the moment of how Slack and MS Teams help shape office culture (for good and ill). On the [third_hand.gif], there are also some fun fantastical / SciFi / existential elements that slowly creep into the narrative as well. And sometimes it's hard to tell what's more absurd - these fantastical elements or the experience of early 21st century knowledge work. Love this book, literally LOLed several times, and highly recommend it!
**Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Several People Are Typing is a quick, timely read about a group of PR agency employees communicating solely through the project platform Slack.
Anyone who uses Slack or another communications platform at work can likely relate to parts of this story — The group focuses on their current projects, the main one for a dog food company trying to handle crisis management, as well as their personal lives. The team works from home often due to weather, dental appointments, and more. One employee, Gerald, has been uploaded to the internal system and the Help Center, in fact, provides no help when he reaches out for assistance.
There were humorous elements in the story but it may be a stretch to call this a funny book. It’s a fast, easy read and given its digital communications format, will be familiar for many readers.
Thank you to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
I can happily report that this is definitely the most batshit crazy book I have yet read in 2021. Not only that, it has also been the most nailbiting and gripping. Once you start, and Calvin Kasulke has you hooked, it is difficult to stop reading. Fortunately, this is quite a fast read.
So, the well-marketed differentiator of this book is that it is written like a Slack chat in its entirety. Being from South Africa, which is probably as far from civilisation as Australia is (:dusty-stick:), I had no idea what Slack even is.
I actually thought it was a made-up version of WhatsApp, until I Googled it and discovered: “Slack is a proprietary business communication platform developed by American software company Slack Technologies and now owned by Salesforce. Slack offers many IRC-style features, including persistent chat rooms organised by topic, private groups, and direct messaging.”
If the very idea of this book makes your head ache even thinking about it, don’t worry. Simply think of it as reading a play. And no dimly-distant Shakespearian English here, either. Kasulke is remarkably adept at conveying the essence of his characters through their Slack communications.
The setting is a run-of-the-mill PR agency trying to put the spin on for their dog-food client Bjärk (see, I told you this was funny) after a bunch of Pomeranians die after eating it. Meanwhile, the boss thinks that employee Gerald is taking way too much advantage of the company’s admittedly lenient WFH policy, and is just not bothering to show up at the office at all anymore.
On the other hand, his productivity has improved drastically, to the point where his co-workers receive work-related Slack messages at the most godawful times. See, Gerald has inadvertently managed to upload his consciousness into the Slack app, with his body still at his work station in his apartment. He gets his good ol’ buddy Pradeep to go check up on him and take care of his dietary and, er, toiletry needs. “I’ll think of it as cat-sitting,” says the stoic Pradeep.
What follows is such an on-the-nose account of how corporate social hierarchy is mediated via social media that I think anyone who reads this is more than likely to relate:
Tripp See, that’s exactly my point. we have a byzantine hierarchical structure we have a SPECIAL PURPOSE, which we call our MISSION STATEMENT and slap it right on the website Even the language of employment is cult-y! We’re not employees, we’re a “team.” That’s only two notches away from just calling us “acolytes” or something. And the stuff we supposedly devote ourselves to, like “innovation” or “influence” or “engagement” how is that any different from telling everyone you’re a Prophet of the Coming Storm?
Slackchat as a medium.... What else? An AI going rogue, WFH is all over the place, a stream of consiousness getting streamed into Slack (of course, where else would one's consiousness go while uploading to GDrive a spreadsheet for choosing clothes?), bedsores and how to prevent them while working round the clock, gotta love a gal (Beverley, was that her?) choosing spinning lessons over spinning tales in PR... If a computer sucks any of us into it, noone will likely be the wiser about it. LOL! I think I can give it 4 stars for the innovative approach. The other 1 star - we can consider it lost in the haze of the Slackchat menu and the rest of trivia.
3.5 stars. So I stopped paying attention after I saw "novel in slack messages" but the thing is, this is not AND THEN WE CAME TO THE END except with a different gimmick. In a lot of ways, the Slack element of it is beside the point. This is a deeply weird, surrealist novel! And if you come in expecting lol work shenanigans, you will definitely get some of that but you will also be very wait what about the actual plot. So just know this going in so that you can relax, put your feet up, and enjoy things getting extremely strange.
If you are not a Slack user, I won't lie, this is going to be very disconcerting. This novel expects you to know Slack. It moves between channels and dm's with ease, though the thing that may be the trickiest for Slack users is the fact that all the emojis are given as their full typed-out handle. (Like :thumbs-up: for example.) I did not mind this at all because I often look up Slack emoji by name, though I did have to go and look up :dusty-stick: which actually does exist. The fact that they have a whole internal culture around the use of emojis and running bits felt very accurate. Sometimes the slack details are not quite right (why would you @ someone if you're already in a dm with them?) but I didn't really mind. It gets so much of Slack usage right that it feels super familiar.
You may be thinking, but I am already in Slack all day why would I want to read more Slack? And yes I get that. You definitely need to be up for the gimmick and not everyone will be. But on the other hand you can breeze through this novel so fast, I could have easily read it in one sitting. And I laughed a lot which I really appreciate these days.
The general plot is weird as hell, as I mentioned. Our protagonist, Gerald, somehow accidentally uploads his own consciousness into Slack. Weirdness ensues. But in addition to Gerald's constant attempts to try and make sense of it through increasingly unusual conversations with Slackbot (a major character!), there is also the PR firm's attempts to run damage control for a poisoned dog-food brand, a covert romantic relationship between two coworkers, and also the word "howling" approximately 300 times. I told you it was weird. The weirdness dials steadily up as you go, and I love that. I wasn't sure how it would all get resolved, but I was pleased that Kasulke wrapped it all up with a sweet queer plot twist that injected the perfect amount of heart into everything.
This is not going to be for everyone. A lot of people are going to hate it. But if you're up for weirdness (and you know I am) then this is a breezy, often hilarious read.
This book had me chortling in the car in under ten minutes. I don't know what the experience is in print, but the audio - narrated by MacLeod Andrews, Neil Shah, Dani Martineck, Sophie Amoss, Neil Hellegers, Cary Hite, Sean Patrick Hopkins, Joshua Kane, Amy Landon, Nicole Lewis, Brittany Pressley, Jonathan Todd Ross - is like sketch comedy if sketch comedy recited Slack channel conversations from a marketing firm where everyone finds reasons to WFH.
I have only used Slack a few times but that didn't interfere with my understanding of what was happening. Emojis are read as the item but I could :eyes: what they were doing. Different Slack channels are used to help the reader know who is privy to the information. Oh and I just spent 15 minutes reading about :dustystick:
If you had to move to a shared online space because of Covid - Slack, Teams, etc - I think this will be particularly amusing. There are some surprises in there I will leave for the reader.
I received a copy of this from the publisher through the Volumes app. It came out 8/31/21.
These are my reactions to Several People Are Typing (2021) in chronological order: 🤔 😮 🤯 🙃 😍 🤨 🙄 As you can see, the situation was dynamic.
At first, I thought that a novel consisting solely of co-workers' chat conversations, transcribed emojis and internet abbreviations was a risky experiment. I doubted if such a small repertoire of literary devices would be sufficient. To my surprise, it was, although I would not call this book a game-changer in the history of literature. Still, it is a daring take on a modern tale about the power of friendship and love, hidden behind a slightly cynical curtain of satire and black humour. Besides, if anyone needs an argument that the real world is better than the virtual one, Several People Are Typing undoubtedly provides plenty of evidence.
I wish the author had not thrown these morals right in our faces though. The novel could have been more subtle and nuanced, especially the story of Gerald's disembodied consciousness trapped inside the Slack application. On the other hand, I am aware that the avant-garde form imposed certain limitations. Nonetheless, Calvin Kasulke managed to explore the intricate relationships within the depicted public relations firm: while typing several people not only discuss work-related stuff but also flirt, show some photos of their kids and pets, gossip, exchange inside jokes. There is even a mysterious howling audible to only one employee, Lydia.
I enjoyed the ambiguity of what/who is real and what/who is fictitious in Several People Are Typing. One of the things I found interesting in this novel is also the satiric exposure of the mechanisms of PR companies' endeavours on the internet, the creation of fake accounts, fabricated comments by invented users, etc. A dog food scandal is used to depict this smoothly functioning machinery that we are often unaware of.
Pretty much any time I see one of the many Jenna or GMA or Reese or Oprah . . . .
Book club announcements I get a lil’ something like this . . . .
Thus was the case with Several People Are Typing so I tracked down a library copy almost immediately. The story here is about Gerald, who finds himself removed from the company cubefarm to being – part of the Matrix????
Yes, poor Gerald. He gives a whole new meaning to being part of the machine when he finds himself inside the firm’s Slack channels. His attempts at freeing himself prove to be futile because hey that help button is really “just a bot!” leaving Gerald with the problem of . . . .
I have to confess that satire isn’t really my go-to when I’m looking for a good time and while this was at times clever, my reaction basically remained like this throughout . . . .
And I realize I’m saying that as someone who relies on a gimmick for people to read my reviews. It is what it is.
I had brief chuckles regarding messaging the wrong person, inter-office paramours and the ongoing battle for the best cube in the farm, but all in all this was just aiiiiiiight for me. The really odd thing was in a post-Covid world it seemed strange to read about the various ways employees were attempting to perhaps take advantage of the company's generous work from home policy. I'm pretty sure Kasulke never pictured a world where NO ONE went to the office for nearly two years when he was drafting this. If you are looking for another take on office life, I highly recommend Then We Came to the End.
Really, really funny absurdist satire of online worklife. Very short, so you don't get tired of the format (whole thing is written as a Slack chat). Exists at a perfect intersection of genuine madness and just regular corporate madness.
Ridiculous, absurd, hilarious and un-put-downable! Get ready for a treat!
First, you must have some knowledge of what Slack is or used it, that is the only way this book will make any form of sense... and even then, it is still absurd.
In Several People Are Typing we meet Gerald who's consciousness is uploaded into Slack, his body is in the real world and he cannot seem to convince anyone to believe him that he is IN SLACK. In all seriousness, would you believe him?
The book is structured through slack channels and that's how the author moves the plot along, introduce us to characters and what life is like working for a PR firm. How the author played with structure and story telling was fresh and very engaging. It's like you are literally learning about these people from their conversations and it is beautifully done. I found myself laughing out loud as how realistic the office setting was... I believed it and I see my co-workers in so many of these characters: The office gossip The weird boss The couple who is dating but wont let you know The office cliques The cool crowd The new hire
Give Calvin Kasulke is flowers because this was a big risk structure wise but it paid off! Such a great, fresh and captivating read! I WANT MORE!
A really creative and funny satire in parts, but too much is left under-explained/unresolved for my tastes. Also, one's mileage may of course vary, but I feel like this needs a big... noncon? dubcon? consent issues? Well, one or more of those handy AO3 tags, anyway. Because there's definitely some not entirely consensual sexual content here, in what I might otherwise have found to be a cute romantic subplot. Overall: just not quite my bag.
(3.5) A story with a brilliant hook: a man’s consciousness is suddenly uploaded into his employer’s Slack; he must figure out how to get back to normal, all while his colleagues believe it’s an elaborate joke. The format – the whole thing is just Slack messages – makes it an incredibly quick and easy read. Sometimes the narrative style doesn’t work as well as it could: the :thumbsup: :eyes: thing got old very fast, and (especially if you use Slack for work yourself) it’s hard not to keep thinking these people would surely, you know, use a chat app that wasn’t fully visible to their bosses for some of these conversations... But really, it’s not the sort of story where that kind of thing matters, and it’s fast-paced and entertaining enough that I could ignore any annoying or implausible bits. It ends up being a pretty perfect mix of funny and horrifying, with an ending that’s really quite moving in its own way. The effect is something like an all-digital version of Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör. It would be great to read an interactive version of this that actually existed within Slack!
weird is such an understatement, when describing this little book. it simultaneously makes you feel at home & like screaming internally forever. even if plot is absolutely out of this world, you know those feelings. none of it has ever happened to you, but also all of it have & it has a place in your marrow.
the intensity (insanity) of modern work culture (and specifically working from home) juxtaposed with the romanticisation of the small things in life! the conversations about how we treat the internet, and what it does to our brains, how it affects our lives! at the end of the day, it's actually a very simple book, but uses such cool & smart ways to achieve what it wants. also, it's absolutely hilarious.
My co-workers and I spent so much time on Slack even before the current situation—which is both slowly and suddenly becoming the eternal situation—so something about this pitch appealed to me. And Kasulke really cleverly incorporates all the different Slack-specific features into the story: Slackbot, the giphy plug-in, the ability to create separate chats (the channel we have just to talk about our ongoing Dungeons and Dragons campaign is my favorite), and that one coworker you consistently have circular conversations with (andddd, that one is my least favorite):
Me: I copied the tag you told me to use in Bitbucket to make the code changes to that Python script. I couldn't merge the changes to Master because somehow it had diverged too far from the tag. Why are the tagged version and Master so different? Aristotle (note: not real name): Can you merge the changes back to Master then? Send me a pull request. Me:......I can't, I just told you I don't know why the two versions are different. And there are too many dead branches on this Bitbucket project, we need to clean them up. Aristotle: Oh, I hope the work I did on branch x didn't get deleted. I guess I could do it all again :( Me: I didn't delete or otherwise change any existing branches, I said we NEED to. Aristotle: Ok, great! You can just merge those changes to Master then. Send me a pull request. Me: /giphy violent murder
This novel is entirely Slack chat and quickly takes a surreal turn when Gerald, an employee of a small PR firm in New York City, gets sucked inside of Slack. Or rather, his consciousness is sucked in. His unoccupied body is still sitting in his New York apartment. It's not scifi, so it doesn't matter why. What matters is.....
It's all about human connection? Or why conversation is dying and being replaced with emojis? Or if you were incapacitated, would any of your coworkers care enough to change your dirty diapers?
Well, thank you, Chris Traeger, I am trying.
This wasn't bad. It was fine. There's nothing wrong with a 3 star review. It was amusing and was an easy read, I just don't think I cared that much despite the author’s attempt to make it mean something more. Also,
I've heard the audiobook is highly entertaining.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
Several People Are Typing is a compelling and refreshing work-from-home comic tour de force that takes place entirely within a PR firm's Slack channels--a strange digital landscape where an employee claims to be literally trapped inside. For fans of Office Space, Then We Came to the End and Severance. And anyone who has ever struggled with an emoticon. Gerald, a mid-level employee of a New York-based public relations firm, has been uploaded into the company's internal Slack channels--at least his consciousness has. His colleagues assume it's just an elaborate ploy to exploit their lax work-from-home policy, but now that his productivity is through the roof, they are only too happy to indulge him. Disembodied and alarmed by the looming abyss of an eternity online, Gerald enlists his coworker Pradeep to find out what happened to his body and help him escape. As Gerald plunges deeper into the surprisingly expansive Slack landscape, he finds a unlikely ally in Slackbot, Slack's AI assistant, who helps him navigate his new digital reality.
Meanwhile, the team's real-world problems are in danger of snowballing out of control. Top client Bjärk dog food might be poisoning Pomeranians across the country; someone is sabotaging the boss's office furniture; Tripp and Beverley are breaking the unspoken rule against office romances; and the incessant howling of wild dogs is starting to drive Lydia insane. Also: Why is Slackbot so interested in Gerald? And what in the hell does the :dusty-stick: emoji mean? This is an engrossing and compulsively readable debut novel rich in satire and sardonicism relating to contemporary corporate culture. It's unusual to discover a dark comedy set in the workplace and it revolves completely around the employees of a New York City PR firm, and I found that the juxtaposition between themes such as capitalism, surveillance and the singularity and the absurd and surrealist plot simply works. Consisting solely of messages written on the workplace app Slack, this is relatable, timely, tender, funny and hugely entertaining from start to finish. Highly recommended.
I am someone who loves unique books that are written in abnormal ways, so instantly, I was drawn to this book.
I enjoyed the first 3/4 and was ready to give it a 3/5 stars. But then something happened that I am not okay with and I cannot overlook.
Most readers don’t seem bothered by it so I may be in the minority here. So please take my review as just my personal opinion. This book is a very quick read that keeps you engaged the entire time. If you’re on the fence about it, I would give it a shot.
KEEP READING FOR SPOILERS X X X X X X X X SPOILERS
Towards the end of the book, the slackbot takes over Gerald’s body. Gerald’s friend, Pradeep, ends up taking care of Gerald’s body. This in turn somehow leads to slackbot Gerald and Pradeep sleeping together??? There is many reasons why this is not okay. The most obvious is the fact that Gerald’s body is “possessed” and he is not consenting this this sex. It’s a bot! Pradeep do better. Second, Pradeep, at this time, did not know Gerald was bi and that is such a violation of Gerald’s body.
BUT when Pradeep tells Gerald, does he get upset? NO! He in turn tells Pradeep that he wishes he was there instead of slackbot Gerald because he has a crush on Pradeep. I mean I don’t know about you, but is this how you would react? No way in hell.
Fast toward a few pages and Gerald gets back into his body. Gerald and Pradeep communicate for maybe 2 pages max before Gerald decides to MOVE IN with Pradeep and just be okay with everything that just happened.
this might just be a surprise contender for my favorite book of the year!!! 🤯🤯🤯 i went into this expecting a quirky workplace comedy but what i got was an absurd, surrealist book reminiscent of my FAVORITE film director, charlie kaufman! this is completely bonkers in the BEST way
i have no idea what the folks at GMA were smoking when they chose this for their book club though, it’s extreeeemely niche and i feel like a lot of people won’t “get” this one.
Well, that was hilariously absurd. I think it'll make people who have been working via Slack this year think to themselves, "Sure, things are hard. But at least my consciousness hasn't been uploaded and trapped in Slack."
This was outrageously funny. Definitely the funniest book I've read since Kings of the Wyld. If you're at all familiar with Slack or late stage capitalism or working in a modern office, you should totally read this. It's hilarious, and I loved it so much.
Update: Page 80. About to yeet this. Imagine creating a segregated Slack channel at work for white people only to talk about things they view as white people things and to also discuss how to manipulate black people. This book has that except for gender. The character who is the manager of the work group is a participant in the chat. The book isn't commenting on this behavior at all -- it's supposed to be clever and amusing. So, you know, this is the author's views coming through here. I was just trying to have a bit of fun and find out what's happening to Gerald, but then it got uncool and sexist. The name of the chat may as well be, "no girls allowed." Just why even do this.
Although this book was published last year, I only picked it up recently. It was a fast and interesting read, a story that shows how office relationships, whether about work or personal, actually didn't change that much since we started working online and from home. The whole story revolves about Gerald and his colleagues, working for a marketing firm with several offices. Gerald usually works from the office in New York, but he's at home because of the bad weather. And then something goes wrong completely when he uploads an Excel sheet. Suddenly he finds himself a part of Slack. His body however, is still at home... What happens during the next weeks is described in short conversations, full of emois and abbreviations, so sometimes you really have to read carefully. There are a lot of things going on, and not all of them very pleasent. The story brought a smile to my face sometimes and I really enjoyed it.
Thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for this review copy.