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Book Review: Several People Are Typing

Several People Are Typing by Calvin Kasulke

There can’t be too many offices anymore where some sort of messaging system isn’t being used. Slack is a popular one, and in a lot of offices the expression “I spend all my time in Slack” has replaced the former complaint that “I spend all my time in email”. Some days it can seem like your brain is stuck in a Slack channel.

In Calvin Kasulke’s Several People Are Typing the whole book unfolds in Slack messages. It’s a humorous look at office politics, office romances, mission statements, demanding clients, working from home, and literally getting your brain stuck inside of Slack. It’s 2022 - if an app actually pulled your consciousness right into it, would any of your coworkers even know?

Gerald is one of the office workers at the unnamed PR firm in this book. One day he’s working from home when, through no fault of his own and due to some random and unexplainable glitch, his mind gets mysteriously uploaded into the office’s Slack system. Worried about missing work and losing his job, he messages his co-workers that he’s going to be working from home for a while. And office life goes on as usual.

“As usual” in this case means with quite a bit of hilarity. Add in an inappropriate office romance, demanding clients whose crisis is handed off to the PR firm to solve (causing more hilarity), and a coworker who suddenly doesn’t seem to exist except for the one workmate who remembers her. 

In the middle of all of this Gerald messages his coworker Pradeep to enlist his help in going to Gerald’s apartment to check on how his body is doing, what with his mind being stuck inside of Slack. This craziness about Gerald is woven into Slack work conversations that are realistic and a sly commentary on the modern workplace.

When the ever helpful Slackbot makes an appearance in the real world the craziness reaches a new level, and sends Gerald and Pradeep in an unexpected direction. 

While the Slack messaging is a clever gambit, the quirky storyline buried within is what really makes the book. Even so, if you aren’t a user of Slack, and don’t understand “DMs” and “channels” the book might get a little confusing for you. 

The book is quick and compulsively readable. If you’re anything like me it won’t even take you all of an afternoon to consume this. It’s also the first book in quite a while that caused me to laugh out loud while reading. One of the tag lines I’ve seen for this book is “a comedy where WFH meets WTF”, and that definitely rang true to me.

I could tell you more but I’d only be inviting spoilers, so I’ll just say that the ending included exactly what I expected, and, at the same time, something I hadn’t anticipated at all. Four Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ for Several People Are Typing.

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Title: Several People Are Typing
Author: Calvin Kasulke
Publisher: Doubleday
Publish Date: August 31, 2021
ISBN-13: 9780385547222
Publisher’s List Price: $24.00 (Hardcover as of 02/2022)