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Jennifer Government Paperback – Jan 6 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Jan. 6 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030927
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030927
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

In the horrifying, satirical near future of Max Barry's Jennifer Government, American corporations literally rule the world. Everyone takes his employer's name as his last name; once-autonomous nations as far-flung as Australia belong to the USA; and the National Rifle Association is not just a worldwide corporation, it's a hot, publicly traded stock. Hack Nike, a hapless employee seeking advancement, signs a multipage contract and then reads it. He discovers he's agreed to assassinate kids purchasing Nike's new line of athletic shoes, a stealth marketing maneuver designed to increase sales. And the dreaded government agent Jennifer Government is after him.

Like Steve Aylett, Alexander Besher, Douglas Coupland, Paul Di Filippo, Jim Munroe, Jeff Noon, and Chuck Palahniuk, Max Barry is an author of smartass, punky satire for the late capitalist era. It's a hip and happening field; before publication, Jennifer Government (Barry's second novel) was optioned by Stephen Soderbergh and George Clooney's Section 8 Films for a major motion picture. However, the level of literary accomplishment varies wildly among practitioners, from brilliant (Di Filippo and Palahniuk) to amateurish (Besher). This field is so hot, its writers needn't be nearly as accomplished as they'd have to become to break into any other form of fiction.

That said, like many of his fellow turn-of-the-millennium satirists, Barry is uneven. He has a lively imagination and a sharp eye for the absurdities and offenses of hypercorporate capitalism. But, with its sketchy characters and slow dialogue, Jennifer Government will disappoint anyone who believes the cover copy's grandiose claim that this is "a Catch-22 for the New World Order." --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

The most unnerving thing about Max (formerly Maxx) Barry's new novel is that its hyperbolic vision of the not too distant future doesn't seem too far out there at all. The world is run by giant corporations who literally go to war with one another; Australia and the U.K. are annexes of the United States; the police are for sale to the highest bidder; and employees take the last name of their employers. Thus, the cast of characters includes John Nike, Georgia Saints Nike (she volunteers at the Church of Latter-Day Saints), Billy NRA, Buy Mitsui, Hayley McDonalds, and so forth. Jennifer Government, a former advertising executive turned government agent, is hot on the trail of the villainous John Nike for murder. As the mastermind of the latest Nike campaign, he planned the murder of 14 teenagers in order to build up the street reputation for Nike's new $2,500 sneaker, Mercurys. Frederick's reading of this wacked-out morality play is first-rate. His obvious enjoyment of the satire fuels his performance. Especially entertaining are his stereotypical foreign accents, which would seem out of place under most circumstances, but they fit the comic book-type characters waging chaos in this saga like an Aris glove.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By J. Tupone TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 2 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jennifer Government is a fictional novel set in a world where free markets have been taken to the extreme & the only rule is: make as much profit as possible. Barry establishes a number of clever & entertaining characters - such as Jennifer Government, the title character, who is a government agent set on bringing wrong-doers to justice, John Nike the egomaniac hell-bent on being number one at any costs & a number of characters who have become disillusioned with the world they live in & their role in it, such as: Buy Mitsui, Hack Nike & Claire Sears. There is even a woman pushing the boundaries of reason named Violet with no last name since she's unemployed. And there's even a Texas hick who finds himself temporarily out of a job before he becomes the unwilling pawn in a international conspiracy to reap chaos; an "innocent" guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, all the time.

Jennifer Government is a highly entertaining novel that pokes fun at the idea that free markets will solve all of our problems. It's highly absurd in most respects, but it's satire & is supposed to be absurd, funny & push the boundaries of what is reason: it's fiction, not fact.

Being a strong proponent of free markets & liberalization myself, I found a lot of humour in this book. It's a fun tale that takes a look at what happens when we let extremists make the rules without any checks & balances. The book is an incredibly fast read despite being a little over 300 pages. I'm a slow reader who often finds myself having to take frequent breaks & can only read or a period of an hour a day. This book was difficult to put down due to it being so entertaining & easy to read.
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Format: Paperback
Archconservative Grover Norquist has been quoted as saying he'd like to make government small enough to "drown it in a bathtub." If he and like-minded individuals were successful in doing so, the world that would result might very well look like that depicted in Max Barry's second novel, JENNIFER GOVERNMENT. In this world, government has been downsized to the point where it has to petition funds from its own citizens in order to pursue murderers, and everything from roads to utilities has been wholly deregulated.
Barry's point is satire, and he does a grand job of it. Within the first few pages, readers are introduced to the predominantly Australian cast of characters - Australia has become a "USA country", a sort of franchise of the United States - who exist in a society where citizens take as their last name the names of the companies for whom they work. We see schools sponsored by McDonald's and Mattel, where children are indoctrinated into consumerism as thoroughly (if not more so) as they're taught math and language. We see a corporate culture so thoroughly divorced from a government-mandated sense of decency that it's considered good advertising to kill the buyers of a certain brand of shoes in order to imbue the product with a certain kind of thrill.
If it sounds insane, then Barry has gotten his point across. The events in JENNIFER GOVERNMENT are insane, and some of the more unscrupulous characters in the book are definitely certifiable.
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Format: Hardcover
"Jennifer Government" is a fast and fun read, good but not great. In the not-so-distant future, corporations have taken over the world, capitalism is the god everyone worships, and the USA is no longer a country but a federation. People now take the last name of the company they work for. Marketing schemes have become increasing outrageous, until a couple of Nike marketing executives hit on the plan of killing some of their own customers to gain "street cred" for their newest product. Only Jennifer, a dedicated government agent, figures out who's really responsible for the killings. I agree with other reviewers that after a great start, Barry sort of backed off on his concept. It was nice to find out what Jennifer's barcode tattoo meant, but why not barcode everyone? Also, there were some predictable moments: I figured right away that the bad guys were going to use Jennifer's kid to get to her, but even that was somewhat flat. However, for all its flaws, it's great as a beach read or to take on an airline flight.
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By A Customer on May 25 2004
Format: Paperback
I read Jennifer Government in two quick days; one a coast-to-coast airline flight and the other day waiting around a courthouse. It is good entertainment; fast paced, easy-reading. You won't want to put it down as a bad book.
However, Max Barry could have pushed it so much further. The first 80 pages you marvel at how brilliant his ideas are, but then he gets bogged down in the transcontinental plot and all the characters. He runs out of steam a bit, and you wish that this could only be a draft. Acts II and III are not as hot as the opening. It's no Brave New World, but it is a good effort.
Examples of what I mean: explaining Jennifer Government's tattoo, for one thing. It would have been so much cooler if EVERYONE were bar-coded--then Max Barry could have explored the strange connection between letting capitalism run free and yet eliminating personal freedom (i.e. tracking everything about everybody all the time for their buying habits etc.) Anyway, a good early novel.
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