"Live Work Work Work Die," Corey Pein, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company, 309 pages, $28.
The growth of Silicon Valley and its effects on the marketplace have been well documented. But the lives of the people who work in the industry and have foisted it on us are less well known, and this is where Corey Pein’s “Live Work Work Work Die: A Journey Into the Savage Heart of Silicon Valley” attempts to fill in the picture.
Pein, a staff writer for the magazine the Baffler, is a former newspaper reporter, who experienced the depredations of tech “disruption” firsthand. He was editor in chief of online news service Demotix when it was sold, reshaped and its employees downsized. So Pein decided to move to the Bay Area to sell a startup and document the horrors of his temporarily adopted home along the way.
The unethical idea he comes up with is called “Laborize,” a company that would hire itself out to one organization to unionize a rival and therefore ruin the competitive advantage. It is a clever ploy that, not surprisingly, fails.
His scathing description of tech companies do not add a serious contribution to journalism. Still, despite and perhaps a little because of its lackadaisical approach to its subject, “Live Work Work Work Die” manages to capture something essential about Silicon Valley that has eluded other authors. This is because Pein starts from the grimy underbelly of tech and never makes it out, which accurately reflects the experience of many tech workers.
This is an exhausting, one-note book, but the tinny, grating note Pein repeatedly strikes may nonetheless be one the world needs to hear more often.
NEW YORK TIMES