Jennifer Government

Barry, Max. Jennifer Government. New York: Doubleday, 2003.

Jennifer Government is fast paced and thrilling. Max Barry has everything from corporate greed, kidnapping, the NRA, and of course, murder. Set in the plausible near future there is a level of sexiness to the way Barry writes. He makes his characters move around each other in a cat and mouse manner, always flirting while outsmarting each other. In the center is Jennifer Government. She lives in a world where people take the place of their employment as their last names (Hack Nike and Jennifer Government and Billy NRA to name a few), 911 won’t respond to emergencies unless the capability for payment can be established, and taxes are outlawed. Jennifer could be the next Laura Croft, fighting old demons and new crimes. So, when her daughter is kidnapped things get personal. But, that’s the climax of the story. It all starts with Nike cooking up a marketing scheme to build of street cred for a new line of $2,500 sneakers by committing murder…

 Favorite quotes, “but he liked New Zealand, he really did. At first he was apprehensive; it was so far away, tucked down in the bottom of the world like something Australia coughed up” (p 22), and “Companies claimed to be highly  responsive, Jennifer thought, but you only had to chase a screaming man through their offices to realize it wasn’t true” (p 285).

Then there is this favorite scene: Hack is trying to tell the police his girlfriend might have killed someone with a toaster. The agent is not listening, arguing with Hack for not having an appointment (p 69-70). It’s an amusing scene but it gets even funnier. Hack finally gets to see a different agent. Hoping to be taken seriously he again tries to report the murder. Only this time the new agent is preoccupied with the capabilities of the toaster. “Can you do bagels in that?” he asks. I can just see the scene played by Nicholas Cage (as Hack) trying desperately to get someone to check on an alleged murder and Steve Martin as the second agent distracted by a bagel-toasting toaster.

I love that there is a Max in Max Barry’s story. It’s a small part, but a highly effective one.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “Plots for Plotzing” (p 183).

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