GEEKS by Jon Katz


How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho
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This story of a gritty computer nerd who makes the break from desperate circumstances takes readers— emotions off guard, first disarming and then touching them. Jesse Dailey may be a computer geek, but a geek in the right time and place. If it isn—t already evident, Katz (Virtuous Reality, 1996, etc.) makes it so: Computer geeks are indispensable. Once alienated, resentful, and on the outs, now they are players, their magpie sensibilities and intelligence not just tolerated but encouraged. Katz enters Jesse’s life (and that of his friend Eric, a much less important figure) the year after Jesse graduates high school in southern Idaho, when he responds to one of Katz’s online articles about geeks. Katz, recognizing a peculiar chemistry, asks if he might visit. Jesse has his computer, but little else: few friends, a tattered family, a lousy job, zero social skills, a squalid apartment in a sorry burg not a stone’s throw from his high school. He does, however, have plenty of cheek, considerable native intelligence, and pride. When Katz suggests he get the hell out, that he has marketable skills, he and Eric do just that. After consulting the Internet (what else?) they head to Chicago—Katz following protectively—get jobs, and soon realize they will need college to get the type of free-wheeling, revolutionary positions they want and need to snap their computer-entrenched inwardness. Jesse, with help from Katz (helped in turn with his own writing on computers by Jesse), overcomes wildly improbably odds to attend the University of Chicago. Along the way there are spirited discussions aplenty of intellectual property rights, the geek take on Columbine, the geek role in building a world that makes possible the invasive information-gathering geeks detest. And there is Jesse and Katz’s evolving relationship, a rare and heart-gladdening thing. Geeks rule in the Internet future, but what we have here is a love story, and a fine one.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-50298-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2000


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