"LaserWriter II," Tamara Shopsin's first novel, is essentially a nonfiction love letter to an old Macintosh tech repair shop in New York City, layered over with a fictitious (I assume) main character. The tech shop, Tekserve on 23rd Street in Greenwich Village, was a real place, opening in 1987, and the founders, David and Dick, are real people. The story — cleanly, economically told — follows Claire, a young woman who gets a job there and proves to be an absolute whiz at repairing printers.

How can this possibly be interesting? Trust me: It is. Actually, it's enthralling. "LaserWriter II" is funny and gentle and sweet, and as Shopsin toggles between the rise of Tekserve and the rise of Apple, the fundamental differences between the two companies become starkly clear. Imagine, just imagine, the way our country could have gone.

Tekserve is homegrown, funky and generous. Free lunch for everyone on Wednesdays, free breakfast on Thursdays, full health care from Day One. They believe in repair rather than replace. Their motto is, "If you are ever in doubt, do the right thing." As for Apple — well, we all know Apple.

A bit of a misfit and a loner, Claire wanders in, finds a home, finds her calling and eventually wanders away. That's the story, and it's all this charming book needs.

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. books@startribune.com

LaserWriter II

By: Tamara Shopsin.

Publisher: MCD, 224 pages, $26.