A Slice of Fried Gold

#10 - Syrup by Maxx Berry

Sunday, May 11, 2008

#10 - Syrup by Maxx Berry

"Perception is reality."

The other day while in a coffee shop ordering a drink, I spun my book around feverishly as I wasted time before my card went through. The person running the register asked me what my book was about, and as per usual I froze. I'm pretty much the worst person in the world at summarizing stories, however I did have a one word answer: marketing.

Of course Syrup was going to be interesting to me. It's a love story slash coming-of-age story for a young business person, all wrapped inside an incredibly interesting study of the clandestine and cutthroat world of corporate life and all facets of the marketing world. This is Berry's first novel, but within its pages he manages to simultaneously legitimize and deconstruct the world of marketing, while exposing it as something that isn't strictly business related - everything we do is marketing something, from how we style our hair to slight gestures.

Case in point: the main character's name is Michael George Holloway, however early on in the story he announces that he long ago denounced that name because it would not allow him to get far in the business world. He needs something edgy, which is why he names himself "Scat." Other characters within the story have names such as 6, @, and Sneaky Pete, and these are all perfectly acceptable and normal names within the confines of this novel.

The general point of the story is Scat's rise and fall (and rise and fall...and rise and fall...quite the rollercoaster ride our boy Scat goes on) within Coca Cola, his perpetual attempts and constant yearning to be with business partner and (self-proclaimed) lesbian 6, and his goal to grab himself a piece of the American dream.

The whole story is hysterical, as Scat is somehow incredibly lovable and deprived simultaneously throughout and never ceases to get himself in many, many awkward and bizarre situations (examples include: business meeting at a strip club, coercing Gwyneth Paltrow to play what is essentially D&D with a bunch of visual graphics nerds, and getting kicked out of the same woman's place three different times in the book - Scat spends very similar amounts of time in the book homeless and not homeless).

Berry has an incredible grasp on character development and the technical mechanics behind corporate culture and marketing concepts, which is incredible because he was only 25 when he wrote this. Every character is written to be very intelligent and conniving, and every act can be read in many different ways. In short, Berry accomplished something a lot of well established authors have done, and that is to make a book that is mentally challenging and engaging to the heart simultaneously, all the while making you laugh near constantly.

This is a great book. I can't wait for more Maxx Berry books, and I already have a second of his books picked out to read (Jennifer Government and then after that I have a recommendation from Kim to read Company). I fully recommend this, as this is one of the best that I've read thus far this year.


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