In Max Barry’s twisted, hilarious vision of the near future, the world is run by giant American corporations (except for a few deluded holdouts like the French); taxes are illegal; employees take the last names of the companies they work for; The Police and The NRA are publicly-traded security firms; the U.S. Read more...
- Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Gr
- Date: Jan 2003
From the book
Hack first heard about Jennifer Government at the watercooler. He was only there because the one on his floor was out; Legal was going to come down on Nature's Springs like a ton of shit, you could bet on that. Hack was a Merchandise Distribution Officer. This meant when Nike made up a bunch of posters, or caps, or beach towels, Hack had to send them to the right place. Also, if someone called up complaining about missing posters, or caps, or beach towels, Hack had to take the call. It wasn't as exciting as it used to be.
"It's a calamity," a man at the watercooler said. "Four days away from launch and Jennifer Government's all over my ass."
"Jee-sus," his companion said. "That's gotta suck."
"It means we have to move fast." He looked at Hack, who was filling his cup. "Hi there."
Hack looked up. They were smiling at him as if he was an equal—but of course, Hack was on the wrong floor. They didn't know he was just a Merc Officer. "Hi."
"Haven't seen you around before," the calamity guy said. "You new?"
"No. I work in Merc."
"Oh." His nose wrinkled.
"Our cooler's out," Hack said. He turned away quickly.
"Hey, wait up," the suit said. "You ever do any marketing work?"
"Uh," he said, not sure if this was a joke. "No."
The suits looked at each other. The calamity guy shrugged. Then they stuck out their hands. "I'm John Nike, Guerrilla Marketing Operative, New Products."
"And I'm John Nike, Guerrilla Marketing Vice-President, New Products," the other suit said.
"Hack Nike," Hack said, shaking.
"Hack, I'm empowered to make midrange labor-contracting decisions," Vice-President John said. "You interested in some work?"
"Some . . ." He felt his throat thicken. "Marketing work?"
"On a case-by-case basis, of course," the other John said.
Hack started to cry.
"There," a John said, handing him a handkerchief. "You feel better?"
Hack nodded, shamed. "I'm sorry."
"Hey, don't worry about it," Vice-President John said. "Career change can be very stressful. I read that somewhere."
"Here's the paperwork." The other John handed him a pen and a sheaf of papers. The first page said CONTRACT TO PERFORM SERVICE, and the others were in type too small to read.
Hack hesitated. "You want me to sign this now?"
"It's nothing to worry about. Just the usual noncompetes and nondisclosure agreements."
"Yeah, but . . ." Companies were getting a lot tougher on labor contracts these days; Hack had heard stories. At Adidas, if you quit your job and your replacement wasn't as competent, they sued you for lost profits.
"Hack, we need someone who can make snap decisions. A fast mover."
"Someone who can get things done. With a minimum of fucking around."
"If that's not your style, well . . . let's forget we spoke. No harm done. You stick to Merchandising." Vice-President John reached for the contract.
"I can sign it now," Hack said, tightening his grip.
"It's totally up to you," the other John said. He took the chair beside Hack, crossed his legs, and rested his hands at the juncture, smiling. Both Johns had good smiles, Hack noticed. He guessed everyone in marketing did. They had pretty similar faces, too. "Just at the bottom there."
"Also there," the John said. "And on the next page . . . and one there. And there."
"Glad to have you on board, Hack." Vice-President John took the contract, opened a drawer, and dropped it inside. "Now. What do you know about Nike Mercurys?"
Hack blinked. "They're our latest product. I haven't actually seen a pair, but . . . I...
"Wicked and wonderful. . . . [It] does just about everything right. Fast-moving, funny and involving." - The Washington Post Book World
"Funny and clever. . . . A kind of ad-world version of Dr. Strangelove. [Barry] unleashes enough wit and surprise to make his story a total blast." - The New York Times Book
"May be the most fun you'll find in a bookstore this year. . . . Full of wit, humor and imagination, Jennifer Government ultimately pulls off its over-the-top conceit." - Time Out New York
"A riotous satirical rant. . . . [Its characters'] excesses . . . make Barry's world of unregulated corporate greed and unrelenting consumerism so frightening and funny." - Entertainment Weekly
"The plot rockets forward on hyperdrive . . . fresh and very clever." - The Boston Globe
"[A] devilish satire that made me laugh out loud." - Dick Adler, The Chicago Tribune