Picks and Pans Review: Dave Barry in Cyberspace

updated 09/23/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/23/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Dave Barry

There are few more inviting targets in America than the computer subculture, with its insidious jargon, frivolous obsessions and unending irritations. Fortunately, satirist Barry couldn't resist, and he takes dead-on aim in this relentlessly funny book.

Though his research included a visit to a computer trade show in Las Vegas, an event he calls Nerdstock, Barry writes mostly of his own misadventures with personal computing, focusing on his familiarity with the three magic words, Abort?, Retry? and Fail?, and his futile attempts to find a living person on the other end of a technical support line.

Barry admits to writing on a computer, but he holds no reverence for cyberspace or its boosters: "Let's not forget the hardware manufacturers, who are constantly coming out with faster and more powerful computers in a relentless quest to render obsolete the computers they talked you into buying last month."

Aside from a couple of rare lapses of taste, Barry shines, and he clearly knows whereof he spoofs. He concludes, "We cannot predict where, ultimately, the Computer Revolution will take us. All we know for certain is that, when we finally get there, we won't have enough RAM." (Crown, $22)

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