weird ideas since 1973

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.


  • Syrup: movie tie-in
  • Jennifer Government: US hardback
  • Company: US hardback
  • Syrup: US hardback
  • Jennifer Government: German large paperback
  • Company: US paperback
  • Syrup: US paperback
  • Jennifer Government: Italian paperback
  • Company: German paperback
  • Syrup: Australian paperback (Scribe)
  • Jennifer Government: Spanish paperback
  • Company: Dutch paperback
  • Syrup: Chinese paperback
  • Jennifer Government: Dutch paperback reissue
  • Company: Brazilian paperback
  • Jennifer Government: Brazilian paperback
  • Company: Polish paperback
  • Syrup: Australian large paperback
  • Jennifer Government: Taiwanese paperback
  • Company: Spanish paperback
  • Syrup: US Audio
  • Jennifer Government: Swedish paperback
  • Syrup: Australian small paperback
  • Jennifer Government: Swedish paperback
  • Syrup: German large paperback
  • Syrup: German small paperback
  • Syrup: French paperback
  • Syrup: Israeli paperback
Providence: A Novel by Max Barry
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Wed 29

Ban This Book

Syrup Last March I discovered that for some reason Canadian sales of Syrup were somewhat weak. By this I mean that in the last six months of 2003, I sold 6 copies. After I posted about this on my site, several Canadians e-mailed me promising to snap up the book, so I’ve been looking forward to a big spike in my next royalty statement.

And here it is! My latest statement shows Canadian sales have increased an incredible 183%. So that’s 17 copies.

Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful. J.K. Rowling would kill for sales growth like that. And, I suppose, cause the world to be completely deforested. But come on, 17! In other parts of the world, parts just on the other side of your border, Canada, it’s selling great. In fact, it’s in its fourth or fifth printing, and the fact that one of those times was because the publisher pulped a whole bunch of copies before realizing my career wasn’t dead yet doesn’t matter.

The way I see it, there are three possible parties to blame:

  1. Me
  2. My publisher
  3. Canada

I’m going with #3, because I have to work with #1 and #2. Pissing off Canada, on the other hand, means—what, they’ll stop buying their 23 copies a year?

Actually, this gives me an idea. Given I have so little to lose, what I need is to get Syrup banned there. Banned books attract publicity and protest groups, and when the ban is finally and inevitably lifted, they sell like gangbusters. Plus, being the author of a banned book would give me all kinds of literary cachet. I could get invited to top-class cocktail parties and tell Salman Rushdie about the time I used him as an example of a red-hot writerly stud muffin.

Surely it can’t be that hard to get banned; I just need to take a sentence or two out of context, tell some hyper-twitchy group that it’s aimed at them, and sit back and wait for Time to call. The Church of Scientology, for example. Surely there’s something I could find in Syrup that would offend them?