Wed 22


Max This has been my last two weeks:

  • I received a copy of the Jennifer Government screenplay.
  • I sold the film rights to Company.
  • I talked to John Cusack.
  • The guy who is probably going to write the Company screenplay e-mailed me to talk about his ideas.
  • I got a bunch of great new Company reviews, including a fantastic piece by Douglas Coupland in The New York Times Book Review.
  • I did a bunch of interviews.
  • The L.A. Times invited me to review a book for them.
  • I wrote a proposal for a TV series for the Sci-Fi channel.
  • Wil Anderson asked me to write a TV series for Australian TV with him.
  • I worked up a final polish of the Syrup screenplay.
  • The Chinese language version of Jennifer Government was released.
  • I made some progress on getting NationStates 2 underway.
  • I got invited to two festivals, one conference, two workplaces to give talks, and asked to contribute writing to four different places.

Ordinarily any one of these would be so cool that I would scamper to the keyboard and blog all about it. But there is just so much cool. To anybody but me, I suspect it is a sickening amount of cool. Plus I’m getting way more e-mails from readers than usual, including many hilarious or scary ones that are also clearly worth blogging about. Basically, there is so much cool stuff happening right now that I could blog about it non-stop, if only there wasn’t so much cool stuff happening right now.

I know what you’re thinking: “Oh, poor Max, I cry fat salty tears of compassion for you; how terrible to have all your time taken up by the realization of all your life’s dreams.” And you’re right; it is poor of me, because when someone, say, takes the trouble to compose a photograph involving my book, one of Stephen King’s, and a monkey, I shouldn’t allow that to pass without comment.

(The best time to write to an author, I have decided, is about two months before his book is published. That’s when most other people have forgotten his existence and he’s feeling frightened and desperate for love.)

Here is my weak compromise: an update in point form. This way I get to summarize what’s been happening without writing 10,000 words, and hopefully also without making too many people sick to their stomachs that so much good stuff can happen to one guy.

  • It feels weird to read someone else’s adaptation of your book. Really weird. Louis Mellis and David Scinto have written a highly stylized version of Jennifer Government—the things they do with dialogue are just amazing—but it’s like seeing your kid dressed by a total stranger: she’s the same, but so different. It’s surreal on the same level as when I read reviews that call me “Barry,” as if I am an Important Person.
  • Company will be developed for the screen by Tom Shadyac and Michael Bostick in conjunction with Universal. And boy are they fast movers! They’re already talking to Steve Pink about writing the screenplay. Steve was a writer on one of my favorite movies, Grosse Pointe Blank, as well the excellent adaptation High Fidelity. Not only that, but he was good enough to drop me an e-mail. What a guy.
  • “Hi, it’s Johnny Cusack.” Only one of the coolest guys on the planet. On the phone. Talking to me. While my wife hyperventilates beside me. (I think Cusack even trumps Wil Wheaton, as far as Jen is concerned. Because he was in Stand By Me and Say Anything. I am a little concerned, though, that I only seem to be meeting celebrities that my wife has had huge crushes on.) John—I mean Johnny—I mean Mr. Cusack—was interested in the Company film rights, and although they ended up going elsewhere, maybe we’ll get lucky and still get his involvement somehow.
  • If there is anything more professionally satisfying than having a absolute titan of the writing scene—a guy who is clearly my literary superior in every conceivable way—write a bunch of flattering things about my work in The New York Times Book Review… then it’s probably illegal.

And some standout e-mails from readers:

  • Kyle, a student in Canada, decided to create a web site for Zephyr Holdings (the company in Company). You know, just because he could.
  • Hobbie wrote to tell me that Russian Coke tastes a lot like Fukk is described in Syrup. My lawyers are just waiting for them to put it in a black can.
  • Christian delayed responding to a fire alarm in his building so he could finish a good bit of Syrup. Nice.
  • Jerry shot me a slightly scary list of websites devoted to barcodes, and the people who love them.
  • Phill says I convinced him to convert to from Windows to Linux, which makes me feel all warm and subversive.
  • Rachel e-mailed me an exhaustive explanation of why American shower faucets work that way and how to master them.
  • Brandon explained that although he loves my web site he is never going to buy one of my books because he doesn’t want to “spoil the mystery.” I was going to ask him to elaborate on this theory, but then I decided this was one mystery I probably didn’t want solved either.


This is where site members post comments. If you're not a member, you can join here. There are all kinds of benefits, including moral superiority!

Hubie (#193)

Location: Edmonton, AB, CA
Quote: ""
Posted: 5328 days ago

Thanks for mentioning me on the post!

If anyone has things to add to the website please email me!

[email protected]

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: ""
Posted: 5328 days ago

Hi Max,
Gotta say, I love the pic of 'Misery Loves Company'.

Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity were really good movies so it'll be interesting to see how Company turns out.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 5328 days ago

Thursday...very early.


Max Barry: 2
Adam: still 0


Since I am a teenager still in hight school, it is required for me to have a myspace account. Recently, I added my myspace url to my quote on this site, and someone named Nicole commented on my myspace. She said something about max barry, but ended her comment by saying, "And your blog on his blog is pretty cool, too." Pretty cool...I'll assume that's like 4 stars or two thumbs up. One things for sure, it's an improvement from the comment left on the last blog which was "Hookaaay. So. Who else wants to line up for a shot at Adam?"

I guess times are looking good for me now. I am member 24 which apparently makes me better than higher numbers. At least one person likes my blog. Yep. It doesn't get much better than this...Unless of course, you are max barry getting movie contracts and positive new york times reviews.

By the way, nicole, you should considered a career working for the new york times. I think your reviews are dead on.


Matthew (#16)

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Quote: "Unicorn on mountain top. Wind blowing through mane."
Posted: 5328 days ago

We are being teased with more "my book will become a movie" nonsense. I have already learned that with Syrup and JG that this will never happen.

The day a Max Barry novel comes to the big screen is the day I poop out basset hounds. That was idiotic, but my low number demands respect, dammit!

Lancer Kind (#1547)

Location: Redmond WA
Quote: "Be nice to the man with the gun."
Posted: 5327 days ago

I have to leave this different note which I think readers of this site will appreciate. It's from a friend who suffers at Boeing.

Subject: Update on Boeing coffee situation

I received this e-mail today. Thought I best keep you all informed:

Please recall that effective January 16 we began charging $0.25 for a cup of coffee (those more zealous consumers amongst us were given the option of a $10 monthly fee). The purpose of this email is to remind everyone of the per cup charge, and that the monthly fee for March is due 6 March.
Our goal has been to mitigate disruption to coffee service resulting from the Operating Efficiency guidance. Over the course of the first several weeks coffee contributions have been outpaced by consumption. Your compliance with the new guidance is appreciated.


You have to imagine that the prick of a CEO is going to get a million dollars in stock options for cutting the bottom line. So his strategy is to subsidize it from the employess.

That's from the John Nike playbook: Pass the cost on to the customer? Hell no, pass it on to labor.

Max, congrats! That option money will spend well, whether or not the screenplay gets shown.


Machine Man subscriber Katrina (#847)

Location: SF, CA
Quote: "Good sex is like good Bridge: if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." -- Mae West"
Posted: 5327 days ago

wooooo... get John Cusack! <3

Sounds like you're having an awesome time. I hope it continues indefinitely. But more baby pictures/updates next time. :P

Tim Ashwood (#595)

Location: Sydney
Posted: 5327 days ago

<i>The</i> John Cusak? You arsey bastard.
You know what'll happen, don't you?
In two to six months time when all these bright and shiny story arcs of your personal life come to their natural, and with all serious hope, wonderful conclusions, and you tell us about it then, we who read and monitor your blog will say "But wait, didn't that all happen ages ago? What have you done for us lately?"

shalini (#717)

Posted: 5327 days ago

wow - you're living the dream! i'm with katrina - hope it continues indefinitely. you deserve it.

Pete Clamiston Nessi (#927)

Location: Chicago
Quote: "04dana14na"
Posted: 5327 days ago

Sounds to me like the square root of negative one is a good place to be.

Hobbie (#1359)

Location: Cornwall, England
Quote: "There was a little man in his hair!"
Posted: 5327 days ago

Jammy git... next he'll be driving a Porshe and flipping off old ladies at zebra crossings, whilst wearing sunglasses and sharp suits. And a ponytail, if his head will yield one. :D

And it's absolutely true. Russian coke tastes like Fukk.

Phill Sacre (#1822)

Location: London, UK
Quote: "Computers are like air conditioners. Both stop working, if you open windows."
Posted: 5327 days ago

w00t, I got a mention! :-) That makes me feel all warm and subversive, all except for the subversive bit.

My favourite of your reader e-mails is Brandon's -- "spoil the mystery?" As they say on the interweb thing, "LOL"!

Machine Man subscriber Xavier Desroches (#1840)

Location: Brossard, Qc, Ca
Quote: "Smile, Tomorrow Will Be Worse... - Murphy"
Posted: 5327 days ago

Really Nice!
I can't wait for the movies! (Well... in fact I can wait, since there is no whay I can make it happens faster... :-S )
I think I'm going to buy 1k of Compagny and Jenn. Gov. since there will 3 new editions after the movies (like LoTR) and the original will be on shortage!!! Ok, I won't BUT it worth (to me...) mentioning it!
Ok, got to go to work in the Holding I "belong" to!

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 5327 days ago

Movies!!! Movies!!! I love movies! Jennifer Government is what Michael Moore could use to sexually please himself! A hot girl AND corporate America! Oh man I can't wait. Max, you tell them to start shooting this instance!

Congratulations to your new life of success, money, fame and Mr. Cusack.

Ruth (#288)

Location: Bath, United Kingdom
Quote: "Only the insane have strength enough to prosper. Only those who prosper may truly judge what is sane."
Posted: 5327 days ago

Yay for the Maxness.

I'm not a fan of blogs, but updates on here whether bullet-pointed are not are one of life's greatest pleasures (and I'm a student, so rest assured apart from essay-writing I'm having a very pleasurable life!)

Toni (#1195)

Location: Boston
Quote: " Mr. Meany says, "Hey!", "You look like shit today!""
Posted: 5327 days ago

I'm psyched that you got to talk to John Cusak...everything else is just icing!! The Cusak's (Bro and Sis) are awesome. When I think of your books I'm actually thinking of John Cusak!! or Edward Norton but that could be a "Fight Club" kickback since I was reading them around the same time and then I saw the movie and now there's this weird morphing of the two since when I think of you I sometimes think of Chuck but for a completely non-literary reason. Like when I was into Chabon because of "The Wonder Boys" and then the movie came out and I was like "What the @#$%!! they ruined it" but not enough for me to not watch it again but just enough for me to not read the last book which I didn't get at all!! Ok so I did read it! Wait...........what was my point?? Anyway...I still love you...not literally..well maybe I do mean literally in that I love your literary contribution to what's not on the bestseller list which by the way is Bull!! Keep up the awesome work!

Toni (#1195)

Location: Boston
Quote: " Mr. Meany says, "Hey!", "You look like shit today!""
Posted: 5327 days ago

Cusack is really spelled Cusak. They changed it after they became so famous that people wouldnt stop calling their mom and dad for pictures and autographs. Ok...I made that up. I just didn't want to admit that I mispelled Cusack. I probably just mispelled the word mispelled but that is what editors are for right? I never said I was an editor.

Zerbe (#1358)

Location: Pennsylvania, The States
Quote: "I'm just a-goin' to the top-a the hill."
Posted: 5327 days ago

I'm so glad you are finally getting the good karma you deserve, but I must admit that it makes me ridiculously jealous. And as for the Syrup movie, good grief, I cannot wait.

MJ Watson (#1929)

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Quote: "One day I will write my novel."
Posted: 5327 days ago


Nice! (Is about all I can say before I start crying (tears of jealousy).)

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @:"
Posted: 5327 days ago

as long as Jen doesn't end up w/ Paulie Shore you can count your lucky stars ;)

Jason (#1193)

Location: Indianapolis, IN
Quote: "The bulwark of the suggestion box has failed."
Posted: 5327 days ago

a sereies on Sci-Fi? Holy shit man, that's awesome news! I hope the ypick it up. Are ther eany hints you can give us about what the sort of general idea is, or is it totally under wraps for now?

Sirocco (#27)

Location: Scotland
Quote: "My NationStates blog:"
Posted: 5326 days ago

Hey, hey, hey:

James (#2261)

Location: New York
Quote: "Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. - Niccolo Machiavelli"
Posted: 5326 days ago

Company, as a movie would be great. Some of the stuff that you wrote about in that book happen where I work, Home Depot, and I can say that now, when it happens I just laugh, make a snicker about "Zephyr" and walk away. I can't say we had anyone complain for months about a donut though but if they did I would probably slap them out of the idiocy of it. Mr. Barry you are definitely a great writer and thank you for Nation-States, the glory of the Empire thanks you.

Leonie (#1816)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: ""The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." - Einstein"
Posted: 5326 days ago

I'm so dorky. I read all those things and though "yeah, that's pretty cool", all nonchalant-like. And then I got to the part about Wil Anderson wanting to write a show for Australian TV with you, and almost destroyed my laptop with drool...

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 5325 days ago

Dunno Max, might be time to get the old prostate checked out. Fate's gotta be working on something pretty nasty for you to balance out all this good fortune you know... I think it was the call from John Cusack that really pushed you over the edge, that and the Coupland review, into George Costanza territory.

Joseph (#1825)

Location: Jeffersonville, Indiana, USA
Quote: "With a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels."
Posted: 5324 days ago

Glad to see your movie titles moving along. So I got a little interested and did a IMDB search and some other ivestigating trough the interweb and found this. I found it ironic that Syrup has less information yet a year earlier release date wich is subject to change.

Jennifer Government 2008 release year

Syrup 2007 release date

George Clooney is making your movie.

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 5324 days ago

Congratulations! That almost makes me want to forgive John Cusack for Must Love Dogs and Ice Harvest. Almost.

Also, make sure your project with Wil Anderson comes over to British tv, too ... otherwise I'll have to move to Australia.

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: ""
Posted: 5324 days ago

This is all because you're the best Aussie export to hit the scene since Crocadile Dundee and Cooper's Real Ale.

Joe (#2270)

Location: Campbell, CA, USA
Quote: "I'm subverting the system from the inside. I think."
Posted: 5323 days ago

Congrats, Max, on your good fortune! I'm hoping to see a Max Barry film Real Soon Now.

By the way, my wife, who loved Company, pointed out that Jones does not come off as an American; she had to picture him as British for his dialog to make sense to her (frequent use of the word "sacked", for example: we rarely use that term). I had let that one pass without noticing because, having seen you in Mountain View before reading Company, was already "hearing" all of the characters speak with an Australian accent.

To demonstrate the point, Google the word "sacked". The top 10 matches are all either British (mostly), Australian, or Indian.

Colette (#324)

Location: Houston, Texas, USA
Quote: ""The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy" -- Kurt Vonnegut"
Posted: 5323 days ago

When does your talk show launch?

Daniel (#2289)

Location: Benton Harbor, Michigan
Quote: "Library rejects book, creates fan...for only 50 cents."
Posted: 5309 days ago

The Cusack part cracked me up. My wife (also named Jen, coincidentally) also has a big Cusack crush. Problem? We used to live in Chicago, making the odds of her running into him that much greater.

Thankfully, never happened.

Comments are now closed for this post.