MaxBarry.com
dangerous when aroused

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.

Blog

Mon 03
Apr
2006

Reincorporation

Company Some people were confused and disturbed by my blog about “Rub-a-Dub-Dub.” They wanted to know if I was seriously upset about a children’s book featuring a duck. To which the answer is: yes. Yes, I was. In fact, every time I go into that bathroom and see that little vinyl horror sitting in the corner, it bothers me all over again. I can’t see inside its chewable pages, but I know that “Quack-a-doodle-do” is lurking there. These sorts of things play on your mind.

Going crazy? No, I’ve always been like this. I’m just opening up.

In less confusing and disturbing news, Company is apparently going great guns. My editor, Bill, e-mailed me:

COMPANY rolls on…another reprint.

This was very exciting, because I’ve never been reprinted in hardcover before. (I have in paperback. Syrup is now up to its ninth printing or something ridiculous. But according to my royalty statement, it has still sold hardly any copies. The only explanation I can think of is that the publisher is doing tiny print runs—like maybe ten books at a time. This would make sense, since this is my ex-publisher, Penguin Putnam, who dropped me like an envelope full of Anthrax after Syrup failed to scale the bestseller lists. If I were a little more bitter and vindictive, I would cackle with glee every time they’re forced to reprint, and fire off e-mails to everyone I ever worked with there saying, “How do you like me now, huh? Huh? HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW??”)

Any reprint is terrific, because it means the book has done at least a little better than the publisher expected. But that “another” in Bill’s e-mail puzzled me. I queried him about it, thinking maybe—maybe—this wasn’t the second printing at all; maybe, if I was really lucky, it was the third. Bill replied:

4th, as a matter of fact.

Hot damn! Even if these are tiny print runs, that’s fantastic. Everyone who bought a copy, I’m thinking of you right now. Not individually, obviously. That would take too long. I’m imagining an amorphous, book-buying blob. No, really. It’s the least I could do.

Company has also picked up a couple of great new reviews, most notably in The Economist. What I especially liked about this one is that it called me “a master of short sentences and the passive tense,” and this outraged a group of linguists so much that they wrote an essay about it:

[T]he passive involves a voice contrast; it has absolutely nothing in common with tense. I am astonished, all over again, at how educated people can commit blunders as extreme as this one in print, and editors don’t even notice.

Clearly you don’t want to mess with people whose idea of a funny joke begins: “I was walking across campus with a friend and we came upon half a dozen theoretical linguists committing unprovoked physical assault on a defenseless prescriptivist…”

Update: In the comments, Mark Liberman—one of those outraged linguists—points out that this isn’t the first time my scribblings have caught their attention. There is this article from 2004, in which Mark discusses Jennifer Government’s use of “And yet.” It took me a while to work out whether I was being praised or dissed—I think it’s praised—and the more I read of their web site, the more stupid and uneducated I felt. To rectify this, I plan not to visit their site again.

Comments

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Picto (#64)

Location: United Kingdom
Quote: "Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light? - Maurice Freehill"
Posted: 4734 days ago

"Not individually, obviously."

*sniff*

Loving the joke. Keep up the hard work, Maximus. :-)

Karan (#1376)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Quid Quid Latine Dictum Sit, Altum Viditur - Anything said in Latin sounds important"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Wait, where's my Australian copy? Or do I have to go harrass a book shop employee? (they hate me so much already, one more time can't hurt).

Tony Quin (#1310)

Location: Plymouth -urgh
Quote: "Yoga is NAILS"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Some people eh? They can't make do with their allocated print run, so they have to have more - 3 more! Greedy bastards.

Elsewhere in the world we just wait "patiently".

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 4734 days ago

You know, the controversy with the linguists is only going to heat up sales. Nothing lights a fire under the public than a bunch of pointy-headed academics going nucular on each other.

Greg Karber (#1568)

Location: gregkarber.com
Posted: 4734 days ago

Only four? I could have sworn when I gave the local Barnes and Noble an order for "as many as you can get" that would have covered at least five.

Either way, you should probably give about 2/3 of your thanks to me; or, if you prefer: 2/3 of your thanks should probably be given to me, you past tenser, you.

Greg Karber (#1568)

Location: gregkarber.com
Posted: 4734 days ago

Passive tense, that is. Now I feel retarded.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Hey Max, thanks for thinking of us and thanks again for the great book. Any ideas when it's gonna be out in German so I can recommend it to my parents?

Of course, I could translate it for you, for just a small nominal fee... you wouldn't want a large, faceless, corporation-like publishing house to do it, would you?

Corbin Cavallero (#2011)

Location: Portland, OR
Quote: "Portland is the best city in the world"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Hehe, the linguists thing made me laugh. And then their mention of Strunk and White made me a little sad, because I use that for grammar rules too.

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 @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 4734 days ago

what what re-print do you have F-YOU money :)

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 @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 4734 days ago

at what*

Andrew (#1279)

Location: Texas
Posted: 4734 days ago

Quickly people buy company more :P. So we can force them to do more reprints and more! *evil laugh*

When i bought company i think it was the last book they had.

Pete Clamiston Nessi (#927)

Location: Chicago
Quote: "04dana14na"
Posted: 4734 days ago

"I’m imagining an amorphous, book-buying blob"

I wonder what Jung would have to say about that.

James Heath (#1846)

Location: Nottingham, England
Quote: ""I've done it before and I'll do it again - I'll F***ing Kill Google!" - Steve Ballmer"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Is there a print out in England yet? Despite the fact that our time line is *stuck* in the 1950s, we like your books too!

Machine Man subscriber Bushra (#36)

Location: Fremont, California
Quote: "www.caffeinatedmuslim.com"
Posted: 4734 days ago

I read the review for Company in The Economist. They sort of gave away the twist. Good thing I had already read the book. The issue that your review came in had the funniest cover, with George Dubya on a falling missile, waving his cowboy hat, like in Dr. Strangelove. I was going to buy the issue just because of that. But then I didn't.

Zoomy (#1546)

Location: Outside Glasgow
Posted: 4734 days ago

When do us Britishers get the book? Also, try to get Syrup published here as well.

Chris McBride (#1977)

Location: Belfast, N.Ireland
Quote: "Plagiarism saves thinking time"
Posted: 4734 days ago

I just imported it from America. I suggest you do the same, unless you're some kind of internet marvel where you can sign up to a blog and post sites yet you don't realise you can import books from abroad.

Cupie (#1396)

Location: Seattle-ish
Quote: ""You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." -Dorothy Parker"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Here's to Da Vinci proportions *cheers* Company should be read by EVERYONE in a corporation. Quack-a-doodle-doo!

Aaron Doucet (#733)

Location: Canada (Sorry)
Quote: "He'd never seen so many expensive pairs of shoes in one place."
Posted: 4734 days ago

Max, Company is a fantastic book and it's great it's getting its fourth reprint already. I bought it a few days after it came out and loved it.

Also, I'm a Canadian who bought Syrup. I guess that means I rule ;)

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 4734 days ago

Sadly it seems I'm not part of Max's "amorphous, book-buying blob", I'm a member of his totally exclusive absolutely discrete, e-book-buying blob, as I bought my copy from Fictionwise (thus neatly bypassing all the angst about when it's going to be published in Australia, UK, etc. and the difficulties some people seem to have with typing www.amazon.com into their browsers).

Hmm, I wonder how many print runs the e-book edition of Company has had so far..? (Hey, it's better than that bloody linguist joke!)

Matthew (#16)

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Quote: "Unicorn on mountain top. Wind blowing through mane."
Posted: 4734 days ago

Max Nation rolls on.

Sophie (#891)

Location: Devon
Posted: 4734 days ago

Ah, that blog made me giggle. Alot!
Well done on your wizardry with the passive tense, and big congratulations on getting a good review from The Economist ... they're tough graders. Nice one.

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: 4734 days ago

I like the panda joke that is mentioned on the page after the page that you mentioned. :D
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000184.html

Mark Derricutt (#2337)

Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Quote: "Death is a painfull way to die."
Posted: 4733 days ago

Barry,

I hate you, I love you, I loathe you, I want to fire you. But alas, being a great story teller is what you are, and we can't descriminate or fire you for being it. However, we can relocate you, and you are hereby ordered to come to New Zealand and promote your books, drink beer with me, and share a darn hot curry (you will however have to provide your own toilet paper).

Oh - and you'll have to sign my books :)

Mark Liberman (#2338)

Posted: 4733 days ago

I'm not the guy who took The Economist to task for praising your mastery of the "passive tense" -- that was Geoff Pullum. However, I contribute to the same blog, and would like to point out some comments I posted there back in 2004 on the apparent frequency of catch phrases, using Jennifer Government as a source of examples:
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000648.html

This was connected to reporting on the 2004 U.S. presidential-election debates, here:
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001518.html

Matt (#61)

Location: Chicago
Posted: 4733 days ago

fantastic

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 4733 days ago

Tuesday, 11:00pm

TWO TIMES TUESDAY! CAN I GET A HOOHA?!

Recently, I decided that Tuesday is the best day of the week. Why? Because no one hates Tuesday. There is no reason to hate Tuesday. Every other day has at least one very good reason to hate it.

Sunday(Not the day of rest) - Most people dislike Sunday because it is not actually the day of rest...it's more like the day of unrest(or no rest) because everyone stays up late on Saturday "partying" and must get up early for church leaving them with sleep deprivation. Plus, the sermon usually makes people feel bad for what they did on Saturday night.

Monday(Suck Day) - This day is arueably(mispelled?) the worst day of the week. Everyone hates Monday. It signifies the beginning of the work week...and everyone hates working. Plus everyone is still feeling the "effects" of the weekend.

Wednesday(Hump Day) - Wednesday is when people realize that they really hate their job or whatever they have been doing all week, and they realized that they will be doing it for two more days. It's depressing.

Thursday(Underestimated Day) - Thursday is one of the worst days(although people don't realize it). People are becoming worn down on Thursday. Apathy takes over. Only small amounts of work are done on Thursday...the deadlines that have been set for Friday put off until Friday morning.

Friday(First day of the weekend?) - I think not. Friday is a day that tricks people into thinking that it is the first day of the weekend, but it is not. Everyone is expecting the weekend to come rolling around, but it doesn't for a very long time; and when work gets out, people are too tired to do anything fun. Friday goes about as slow as a dead chicken trying to cross the road.

Saturday(The Lazyman's Best Day) - Saturday...a day that some people can sleep in until 2pm and party all night...a luxury that is reserved only for teenagers and hobos because the rest of the world works on Saturday. A word to all who think Saturday is the best day of the week...GET A JOB YOU LAZY BUM!

FINALLY SOME MORE REASONS WHY TUESDAY IS THE BEST.

Tuesday, as mentioned above, is not really hated by anyone, and how could anyone hate Tuesday? People have no reason to hate Tuesday. They've made it through Mercyless Monday, and they haven't realized how much they hate their job yet(that comes on wednesday). Most people are in a good mood on Tuesday and get a lot of work finished. Life is great on Tuesday! Can I get a Hooha?!

-adam

PS If you hate Tuesday, you probably hate every other day as much, if not more.

Joseph (#1825)

Location: Jeffersonville, Indiana, USA
Quote: "With a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels."
Posted: 4730 days ago

Well, look at the bright side max. People are talking about you.

Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 4730 days ago

And yet.

Katy (#2345)

Location: Los Angeles
Posted: 4730 days ago

Mr. Barry, sir:
I borrowed the book from my brother. I'm sorry.

...

In the interest of reprints, I'll go buy it.


...


:( Lousy, good-for-nothing website... I finally read it and feel guilty... "buy my books" ... for Chissake!

:-D love your books! KEEP WRITING, PLEASE!

Michael Landing (#2311)

Location: Tallahassee FL
Quote: "I <3 max's books"
Posted: 4729 days ago

you mentioned an envelope of anthrax because it didn't sell?? my modest opinion is that it didn't sell because the book revolves something called fukk, i still bought and enjoyed the book though

Keely (#1602)

Location: easy-peasy-24.livejournal.com of course!
Quote: "I always wanted to see the lights of Broadway... but then you get there and they're really kind of annoying."
Posted: 4728 days ago

Hey, I helped with that reprint! -raises hand-

I was right there at the reading buying your book. Yup. :D

(I bought J.Gov secondhand, though, and now I feel guilty. I oughta go out and buy a paperback right now... I'll do it eventually, I promise!)

Michael (#1299)

Location: Northern California
Quote: "Chugachugachoochoo"
Posted: 4691 days ago

I read the 'and yet' article and all I have to say is...

huh?

oh yeah, and whats a "bigram?" I mean, I know what the um, the conventional definition of 'bigram' would be, but I don't think they used it in that sense. Unless they were watching porn.

Basszje (#2414)

Location: Holland
Posted: 4684 days ago

And Company has found it's way to my little apartement in the Netherlands. I picked up Jennifer Government a few years back in Italy after playing NationStates for a while ( yes it works! ). Good going!

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