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Jennifer Government Paperback – Jan 6 2004

125 customer reviews

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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: #129,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

Free enterprise runs amok in Barry's satirical near-future nightmare: the American government has been privatized and now runs most of the world, including "the Australian Territories of the U.S.A.," where the book is set. American corporations sponsor everything from schools to their employees' identities, and literally go to war with one another. By taking a drink at the wrong water cooler, Hack Nike, a merchandising officer at the athletic shoe company whose name he bears, is coerced into a nefarious marketing plot to raise the demand for Nike's new $2,500 sneakers by shooting teenagers. Hank becomes responsible for the death of hapless teen Hayley McDonald's; he and two top Guerrilla Marketing executives, both named John Nike, are soon pursued by the ruthless Jennifer Government, a former advertising executive who is now a federal agent with a personal ax to grind-and preferably to sink into the cranium of her hated ex, one of the John Nikes. Barry tosses off his anticorporate zingers with relish; his sendup of "capitalizm"-a world where fraud is endemic and nearly everyone (except the French) is a cog in vast wealth-creation machines-has some ingenious touches. The one-joke shtick wears thin, however, and is simply overdone at times ("I'm getting rid of Government, the greatest impediment to business in history," says John. "Yes, some people die. But look at the gain!"). Barry's cartoonish characters and comic book chase scenes don't allow for much psychological subtlety or emotional resonance. Still, if it's no 1984, this breezy, stylish read will amuse the converted and get some provocative conversations going.
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

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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