.TMP file of Douglas Coupland's 'Microserfs' sold for $2m
The literary world is still reeling and clutching at friends for balance, after the astonishing sale at auction in Christie's of London of the .TMP file of Douglas Coupland's Microserfs novel for an unprecedented $2m (300 Euros). The sensational sale was part of an auction of personal Coupland (left) memorabilia, including old ATM cards, mouse-pads and one Apple Expo '92 name-tag.
But the undoubted star was the quasi-mythical 'lost' .TMP file, long thought to have disappeared with the rest of Coupland's files when his Compaq crashed in November 1993. In fact, in a twist worthy of the master himself, the computer's hard drive was reconditioned, sold in a garage sale as a door-stop to a San Jose-resident Xerox engineer, and eventually restored in 1998 to its former literary glory by his twelve-year-old son.
Even then, Howey Mugsden didn't realise the significance of his find. "All I found were a ton of old C64 games and a bunch of stuff about some geeks working for Microsoft", he told reporters. "But then I showed Dad and he said he recognised the writing from some book".
It was, indeed, the lost first draft of Coupland's 1994 meisterwerk, a bitter-sweet fable of four Microsoft programmers who leave Seattle to set up their own software company in Silicon Valley. Scholars pored over the file (of the type typically left over whenever Microsoft Word crashes) and discovered much to delight Coupland fanatics everywhere.
~WRL2132.TMP differs in many respects from the published version of Microserfs:
is a priceless resource for Coupland scholars and a fascinating insight
into the author's working methods", said Paul Wilson, chief analyst
of literary manuscripts at Christie's. "It shows the text in its
embryonic state. Here, Coupland is unconcerned with getting the details
exactly right. He is trying to bring out the feel of the time, the human
heart that beats throughout Microserfs"