For a while I had been reading only non-fiction works. I don’t mind them and in-fact, I love them. However apparently my mind needs a little more variation. I have been busy recently with reading The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes and The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Both books are good, but in the case of the Rhodes tome it is quite gigantic and a lot to plow through (not to mention a hefty volume to have to lug to and from work so I can read it on the train). The Jacobs book is also good and fascinating but I found myself dis-inclined to read while on the BART. I finally figured out my brain was really wanting some fiction to chew on so I got a couple of books by the author Max Barry: Syrup (possibly listed as Maxx Barry) and Jennifer Government. Syrup The main character, Scat (changed to such to be more catchy), is in marketing. The entire book revolves around a corporate world gone mad and bent on marketing to the ultimate. Scat starts out the story with a million dollar idea that is promptly stolen from him by his room mate, Sneaky Pete. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the story. Scat meets up with a woman named 6 and together they go through the highs and lows of trying to get back at Sneaky Pete. Now, Scat had met 6 at Coca-Cola, whish is where she worked and he pitched his brilliant idea. After some snaking and charming by Sneaky Pete both 6 and Scat find themselves down and out and working to get back into Coke. An opportunity comes along for Scat and 6 to get back at Pete via Coke’s newest ultimate marketing idea (which I won’t go into because it will taint future readers). Full of back stabbing, likeable if lightweight characters and a good light-hearted romp into soda and entertainment industries, Syrup has appeal and zing. It’s not a particularly heavy novel, but it is a great read (I finished it in two days of BART reading). Jennifer Government In the not too distant future corporations run the world, lands like Australia and Britain (amongst others) are all part of the USA and the free market rules. People no longer have a last name because it’s the name of the company they work for (Hack Nike, Jennifer Government, et c.). With corporations run rampant the world is a much different place than the one we currently inhabit, but any reader will be able to see it as one possible alternate to what we have. A better book (and Barry’s sophomore effort), from the chases around the world to the depiction of the NRA and the Police as security companies the story will have no trouble in keeping the readers attention. That some of the behaviors are in the realm of impossibility for us makes it that much more enjoyable. The characters are better fleshed out than in Syrup and even though you might be tempted to think part way through that there are so many of them that things are unravelling you will be pleasantly delighted when you get to the end. Max Barry is an author that I’m going to keep my eye on and I’ll certainly be reading more of his books as they come along. As for The Making of the Atomic Bomb and The Death and Life of Great American Cities I’ll be getting back to those now (and I better they were very kind gifts from good friends) before I move on to anything else in my reading list.