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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.

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Mon 18
Oct
2004

Retrospective #3: Canadian election testicles

Max First, thanks to those people who wrote to me about testicles. I have been running for two months now without noticing any gonad-related issues, but now I know I’m the exception. James advises me:

tape up your testicles with sticky tape, that way they wont bounce around and you will run faster

Because of reduced air resistance, I’m assuming.

Drew has an even more alarming tip:

Vaseline.

If you’ve just taken up running, and you’re in training for the Nike 10 km event, then get to know and love the above product.

Six weeks ago I started running, spurred on by Nike’s promise to turn me from latte-sucking desk-bound loser to uber sporting champion (and all round winner).

Five weeks ago I was ready to chuck it all in, courtesy of a nasty spot of chafing and a very tender left testicle.

Four-and-a-half weeks ago I discovered Vaseline, and within five days everything was back under control.

Now I’m wondering why I don’t have sore testicles. (Also, how I’m going to be able to look any male runner in the eye ever again.) Maybe it’s because my shorts have this odd interior netting. I hope that’s it. I hope I don’t just have freakish nuts.

In other news, the conservative government retained power in Australia, just like Freddy said it would. With no thanks to Freddy, though. I met him for dinner the night of the election and said, “So, did I convince you to change your vote?”

“I thought about it,” he said. “But then I forgot to vote.”

Since voting is compulsory in Australia, this means I’ll soon be visiting Freddy in prison. (Just kidding. It’s a $20 fine.) Speaking of which, though, a reader called KingJahnx pointed out a benefit of compulsory voting I’d never considered before:

at least you don’t have people constantly bugging you untill you register to vote like in the states

Good point. I’m getting sick of being encouraged to vote, and I’m not even eligible.

Several irate Canadians wrote to me to complain about me blaming their nation for poor sales of Syrup. Here’s one from Cass:

Dear sir: I, as a Canadian, bought Syrup, and loved it. Your ingratiude made me cry. I hope you are happy.

Well, not any more. I was doing fine before I read that. Other readers opined that my low sales were a result not of Canadian indifference but poor distribution. Tyler said:

I have not once, through my many months of searching, have ever found Syrup on the shelves of a local bookstore.

While Jesse wrote:

I’ve tried in vain to find Syrup, I’ve checked three major cities in Ontario to no avail.

And, neatly summarizing, Nick said:

I do nt think you should blam e Canada but you should blame your publisher. I spent 18 months searching in bookstores and on Amazon.ca for a copy of Syrup bit could not find an availble one. It was not until I was on vacation in Chicago that I found a copy. Do not blame my country for lousy sales, blame your crappy publisher.

I should perhaps observe at this point that I had a different publisher for Syrup than I did for Jennifer Government. It could, perhaps, be argued that my first publisher finds it difficult to even glance at a copy of Syrup without becoming filled with pangs of regret over having cut me from their list. So maybe that explains it.

But this doesn’t totally let you off the hook, Canada. You can still go up to the counter of your local bookstore and get them to order in a copy of Syrup. Pretty much any bookstore will happily order in a book for you at no additional cost, and it’s a good way to support books that aren’t making it onto the shelves on their own. (See, I mention this not for my own benefit, but for all the struggling writers out there. Well, not entirely for my own benefit.)

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