Max Barry has been one of my favorite authors for years. He’s an Australian whose work – high concept, Big Ideas novels with humor, brains and heart – I find endlessly fascinating, and have done ever since I happened upon a copy of Jennifer Government in a bookstore here in Cork. While I couldn’t possibly choose one favorite author or one favorite book (there’s just too many!), I can tell you that Barry’s are the only books I re-read all the time. He’s just released his fourth novel, Machine Man, and I am LOVING his book trailer for it.
Unless you’ve been on Mars and/or ignoring my blog posts, you’ll know that despite my saying never countless times – and saying it in public, and in print – I’m self-publishing my novel in October. And Max Barry actually has a lot to do with it…
His novel Company is a very, very clever corporate satire that Barry wrote following a stint in the bowels of Hewlett-Packard. Imagine Initech (the company in Office Space) only with nobody – including the people who work there – having any idea what it is the company does. I am forever amused by the utter idiocy of corporate culture and so Company felt a bit like it was written just for me. I loved it, and I was also inspired by it. I thought I’d love to write a book like that – but about the dieting industry which, if you ask me, has been asking for the satire treatment for years. So I did – or tried to, anyway. It’s called Results Not Typical and it’s out next month. I don’t imagine it’s a speck on the shoe of the great Company (I know it isn’t, because none other than the New York Times called Company “hilarious”), but I think it’s better than a slap in the face. We’ll see what people think when it goes on sale.
[Imagine me experiencing night terrors over this.]
“The world is run by American corporations; there are no taxes; employees take the last names of the companies they work for; the Police and the NRA are publicly-traded security firms; the government can only investigate crimes it can bill for. Hack Nike is a Merchandising Officer who discovers an all-new way to sell sneakers. Buy Mitsui is a stockbroker with a death-wish. Billy NRA is finding out that life in a private army isn’t all snappy uniforms and code names. And Jennifer Government, a legendary agent with a barcode tattoo, is a consumer watchdog with a gun.”
I mean, come on. How could you not want to read that book?!
In related news, Max Barry does actually know I exist. Or at least he did once, for a few minutes. In April 2010 I attended an Inkwell workshop in Dublin, taught by bestselling author Monica McInerney. At one point she went around the room and asked us to name a favorite novel, and I said Company. We got chatting afterwards and Monica being the super lovely person she is, ended up buying and reading Mousetrapped and then e-mailing me to tell me what she thought of it. In her e-mail she also mentioned that since the workshop she’d been in Australia filming a book club show with none other than Max Barry (!), and she’d told him about me and how I’d named Company when my turn came. I spent a day floating around a fluffy cloud, thinking, Oh my god! Max Barry knows I exist. Me! Little Me!