Monday, July 16, 2012

#576: Not Syrupy

On the strength of Max Barry's corporate-future-comedy novel JENNIFER GOVERNMENT (reviewed below under "Jennifer the hit man...."), I backtracked & read Barry's 1st novel, SYRUP (1999) -- which is even faster-paced & funnier & even more cynical about the way Corporate America works.
It's especially cynical about Marketing -- about how it works & about how we are all its creatures.
But mostly the book is harmless & played 4 big laffs. There R lotsa great 1-liners & sudden scene-changes that R intended entirely 4 their comedic effect. It's almost like a series of blackout comedy sketches. There R fewer characters 2 keep track of, but lotsa wild twists & turns. & Love finally does Conquer All on the next-2-last page. There R even little lessons about Marketing scattered thruout the book -- these R mostly pretty hysterical.
Weightiness-wise, this book is about as "heavy" as the slight tingling in the nose that you might get when you pop open a can of soda -- pleasant, amusing & brief. An Xcellent Summertime read.
Briefly: Barry's hero, Scat, wants 2 B rich & famous. He markets a brand-new soda with an arresting name -- Fukk. Scat doesn't actually CREATE the soda, he just develops the concept: Fukk comes in a bold black can. Who CARES what it tastes like? The CONCEPT is the thing. & other than learning that Fukk has 2wice the carbonation of any other soda, we NEVER learn how it tastes.
Scat then creates a hysterical ad campaign 4 Coke. But both his great ideas R stolen from him at the last minute by an insidious backstabbing "friend" who pockets all the credit. & all the $$$.
This friend ends up as a corporate bigwig at Coke -- & Scat & his love-intrest "6" end up working on a $140-million Hollywood film/commercial, the biggest ad of all time ... which is overseen by Scat's backstabbing friend. From the description, this film sounds a little like STAR WARS with all the aliens drinking conspicuously-placed cans of Coke.
Naturally, the filming does not go completely smoothly. & also naturally, there is a long sequence of head-twisting sudden changes, lotsa corporate warfare & in-fighting, & a series of lightning-fast breakups&makeups Btween Scat & 6, & Scat's previous love-intrest, Cindy (soon 2 B re-named "Babe-a-licious" 4 her appearance in the giant STAR WARS/soda movie). Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow & Winona Ryder all have walk-on appearances.
All of this is crammed in2 300 pgs of 1-line chapters, blackout sketches, hilarious entanglements & suprises. It all works out OK, & it's a FAST read. I got thru the book in my spare time during a coupla days off.
At the end, I thot it was intresting how Scat never really CREATES ANYthing new -- he just comes up with ideas that R Xecuted by others. Barry has worked in Marketing & taught college courses in it. He obviously knows his stuff -- & knows what a joke it all is.
& we're surrounded by it.

Latest work playlist:
Pam Tillis -- When You Walk in the Room, I Was Blown Away, Melancholy Child, Homeward Looking Angel.
Pink Floyd -- High Hopes, Keep Talking, One of These Days.
Hawkwind -- Urban Guerilla, Sonic Attack, Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke).
Florence + the Machine -- Shake it Out, What the Water Gave Me.
Wigwam -- Tramdriver, Wardance, Never Turn You In, Losing Hold, Just My Situation, Cheap Evening Return, Sane Again, International Disaster, & most of their HIGHLIGHTS best-of.
Fairport Convention -- Tale in Hard Time, Come All Ye, Meet on the Ledge.
Nektar -- Fidgety Queen.
Gong -- Wingful of Eyes, Bambooji, Chandra, Shamal.
The Who -- I'm the Face, Disguises, So Sad About Us, Our Love Was, Armenia City in the Sky, I Can See for Miles, Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand, Tattoo, Sunrise, Little Billy, Dogs, Dreaming from the Waist (live).
King Crimson -- Happy With What You Have to be Happy With.
Pete Townshend -- A Little is Enough, Rough Boys, Now and Then, Give Blood, Jools and Jim, My Baby Gives it Away, Misunderstood, Empty Glass, Slit Skirts.
Joni Mitchell -- Raised on Robbery.

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