Jennifer Government Paperback – Jan 6 2004
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
I did read through this pretty quickly so some issues I have are mostly my fault. For example, the characters often left me wondering who they were. I'd start their viewpoint and would completely forget which plot their name is linked to but the author did a good job of reminding me without hitting me over the head with it. The characters themselves are also really well made. They are distinct from each other in not so subtle ways, making it easier to rely on their actions and words to distinguish them instead of their names.
It was great seeing how one small decision a boring office worker made spiralled into a huge debacle, combining all of our characters' efforts and weaving their stories so seamlessly. I wish I paid a bit more attention because I've already forgotten how some characters ended up (mostly minor ones, however), and I wish their stories had more closure, but the ending with John and Theo was perfect; that last line hit it so well. It left the issue hanging, making me wonder if one day someone else will try for my aforementioned hoped-for revolution, yet wrapped up this story about their government nicely.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Such a good book! I loved it so much! A society you really don't wanna live in!
Do not read if you are a member of the tea party or work for Koch Industries :P
Jennifer Government is a novel that takes place in the future, but still encompasses many of the social and political issues we face today. Read morePublished on June 4 2007 by Bubba
Forget the overt, pretentious literary criticism of the previous reviews. Imagine a world in which George Dubya Bush, Wal Mart, and Nike actually win (not so hard, is it? Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2004 by John R. Vokey
Okay. I really don't want to crap all over Max Barry here. But this book was lacking in a lot of areas that I know Max is capable of handling. Read morePublished on July 12 2004 by Daniel E. Donche Jr.
Barry's work is excellent. 'Jennifer Government' is an excellent novel in which William Gibson meets Dave Barry. Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by Emerson Harris
I picked up this book based on the cover, title, and jacket. Not my usual way of choosing reading material, but all three were striking. I wasn't disappointed with my purchase. Read morePublished on June 22 2004
I just finished Jennifer Government after finding out about it through nationstates.net. It is a fun read if you like economics and political science, and really fast. Read morePublished on June 15 2004 by J. Watts
"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... Read morePublished on June 2 2004 by Nancy Eggert
Jennifer Government is a fresh and vital sci-fi look into the future of postmodern humanity. Max Barry describes with wit and edgy style a future that is both completely... Read morePublished on June 2 2004 by Rekz kaRZ