3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Watch out for Max Barry!,
This review is from: Jennifer Government (Paperback)
Jennifer Government is a satirical romp somewhere midway between a zany critique on globalisation and a Whitehall farce with shades of Candide thrown in for good measure.
As John Nike rightly notes, it is also the antithesis of 1984, at least until the government gets its revenge on the wayward Mr. Nike. Capitalism and consumerism have assumed complete control, to the extent that that membership of loyalty schemes spells success, and to continue growth means obliterating the opposition. As the battle lines of competition are drawn, the key corporate marketing liaisons of the top companies are like first world war generals. In this context, John Nike initially gets ahead by being more crazy and delusional. Given the power of NRA armies, he exploits the world like a dictator before the forces of reason - on his own side - catch up, but only because they believe his strategy is not good business.
The inventiveness here is once in a generation - truly inspired. And the satire would lack any bite had he not used real global corporates and brands to illustrate his point - his message is entirely credible.
Like Tom Sharpe, Joseph Heller and other great satirists before him, Barry has created a bunch of eccentric characters worthy of Dr Strangelove, whom he bounces off one another at breakneck speed and tortures with gay abandon to illustrate the madness of marketing. And John Nike is truly the anti-hero of his era. If ever this book is filmed, I can just picture John Lithgow playing Nike in a state of semi-deranged fervour! So why name the book Jennifer Government? She represents the ultimate salvation from destruction, perhaps in a nod to the classic morality tales named after the heroine.
The main weakness is that Barry fails to create a powerful ending, so the book peters out with an unrepentant John Nike discovering that the world has moved on in his absence. Somehow, I feel the characters had somewhere to go, to find the true moral before living happily ever after. This is a writer of great promise, one who will surely someday create the next Catch-22.