07 Aug Maybe Microsoft Man is a little Romantically Detached?
John Woods…A Microsoft Man
I enjoy author and philanthropist extraordinaire, John Wood’s casual story-telling voice. Clearly a brilliant man, he writes well, though the strength of the book (at least thus far) is the true story itself; the material that arise from his experiences, rather than Wood’s words.
He’s honest, candid in fact, and I think that’s a necessity for a memoir to be intriguing. Of course the fact he’s now left Microsoft makes it a little easier for him to be critical of the company and specific colleagues, whom he identifies by name—particularly Steve Ballmer, “Microsofts’ hard-charging, demanding, and voluble second-in-command,” whom Wood accuses of “haranguing” colleagues.
Next in the no-one-is-off-limits list, Woods gets into his relationship with his “live-in” girlfriend (is it me, or does that sound clinical?), Sophie, and her reluctance to live anything less than the high life. He does credit her intelligence, mentioning the array of languages she speaks: “How many Americans had mastered French, Spanish, Czech, and Mandarin Chinese by age 33?” But in keeping with what I see as a rather cold (analytical? He is a Microsoft man, after all…) approach, he describes the woman he loves in rather clinical terms. He left his post in beautiful Sidney, Australia for her, moving to the detested smoggy Beijing in order to follow her career because he loved her so much, yet when he returns from Nepal, he seems to admire her accomplishments more than love the woman she is.
Just an observation but I found it ironic that Wood says other girlfriends had described him as “detached” but with Sophie it wasn’t like that at all. Right from the start he could talk to her comfortably about anything, yet his epiphany in Nepal paves the way to a change in more than his approach to his life’s work…clearly it is going to result in the demise of a relationship with the woman who is as “international” as he but in “a very different way.” She just doesn’t share his love of third world travel, preferring the comfort and luxury their expatriate status (and salaries) bring.
Who knows? Maybe Sophie was as aloof as Woods seems to be. Certainly her reaction to his announcement over the dinner she labors in love to make him (even picking up his favourite wine) following his return from his second, book-delivering trip to Nepal, is relatively emotionally void. She seems much more interested in knowing how they will keep their swanky apartment (which Microsoft pays for) than in what Woods’ departure from the company (and subsequent philanthropic work) would mean to their relationship.
At least that’s how Woods describes it…It had piqued my interest, however. How will it ultimately end? A little romantic conflict goes a long way to keeping readers turning pages, even in non-fiction!