Throughout the years, the criterion of what makes literature worthy of becoming deemed “classic” has been decided by the changing literary perspectives of critics, intellectuals, and everyday people. In a time when many authors have found success and fame, but ephemerality, Max Barry stands out among them as an author truly worthy of being immortalized in the literary world. His success, due to his innovative message, his unique style, his general appeal to the modern audience, and his relevance to contemporary history, as illustrated in his three novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, and Company, makes him a likely candidate for conclusion in the classical canon of literature. Barry’s humor, wit and originality have propelled him into his successful role as an author and have earned him notice by many critics and readers alike.
Max Barry’s three works address different fictional worlds of corporate America, which may all seem too familiar or real. He is aware of the economic and social issues in the world, and he addresses many of them in his novels. His first published novel, Syrup, is the story about Scat, a marketer with great new ideas but whose thieving rival has made it hard for him to break into the world of success. The reader is thrown into the fast-paced world of marketing where Scat faces many trials while dealing with 6, his business and romantic partner. Syrup has a “smooth, slick throwaway style that hurtles along at breakneck speed”. His style also “breaks out of the ranks of books that self-reflectively and self-consciously are about writing literature and books. Syrup is about marketing, and – no surprise – Syrup is a product to be marketed” (“The complete review’s”, Syrup). His novel sheds light on advertisements and marketing schemes that are used today, where perception is reality and image is everything (Barry, Syrup). Syrup is so relevant to today because it embodies the modern ideas of capitalism, romance, and also humor. His broad message and unique concept also gained him the attention of Fortress Entertainment, which has optioned for his book to become a motion picture (“Max Barry”). The novel relies on the omnipresence of advertisement in people’s daily lives. Had it been written even ten years earlier, it would probably not be received with the same understanding as today’s audience who is constantly exposed to marketing. Syrup is defined as a leftist satire, poking fun at the modern views of capitalism and absurdities of marketing and consumerism (Banash). Barry’s other novels also echo very similar aspects and topics.
Jennifer Government is “Barry at his most broadly political” (Maiello). His novel has received praise from magazines and critics, comparing his political satire to Aldous Huxley and George Orwell (Maxbarry.com). Possibly Barry’s best novel as of yet, Jennifer Government is about a “dystopian future of total laissez-faire “capitalism”” where everything is run by companies and the government itself runs like a corporation (Banash). The novel begins with multiple protagonists like Jennifer Government, the government agent and single mother who tries to accumulate funds for her case and also be a good mother, or Hack Nike, who signed a contract that said he would kill the first people who bought Nike’s new twenty-four thousand dollar shoes, but in the end, it masterfully blends each character into each others’ stories. This novel itself is worthy of adding Barry to the classical canon of literature for its unique style, gripping storyline, and strong leftist satire. This extremist world is not so far off from the modern world of today, and according to Barry it is “pretty much the same as our world except for the social structure” (Barry, Widmyer). Being able to write such a relevant and successful novel is what makes Barry so unique and so astounding because he is able to change the way people think through his literature, which is a quality that a member of the classical canon of...
Cited: Banash, David. “Jennifer Governmennt.” Rev. of Jennifer Government, by Max Barry. Reconstruction. 2003. 15 May 2006 .
Barry, Max. Company. New York: Doubleday, 2006.
- - -. Jennifer Government. New York: Vintage, 2003.
- - -. Max Barry. 26 Mar. 2006. 26 Mar. 2006 .
- - -. Syrup. New York: Penguin, 1999.
“The complete review’s Review.” Rev. of Company, by Max Barry. The Complete Review. 2006. 19 May 2006 .
“The complete review’s Review.” Rev. of Syrup, by Max Barry. The Complete Review. 2006. 15 May 2006 .
Maiello, Michael. “The Truth About Your Company?” By Michael Maiello. Rev. of Company, by Max Barry. Forbes 6 Jan. 2006. 16 May 2006 .
“Max Barry.” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 22 Mar. 2006. 27 Mar. 2006 .
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