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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.

Blog

Mon 31
Dec
2007

God & Bedford

Max Bedford, England, is a place to make you believe in God, but only if He is very angry. Gazing across the panorama of desolate streets, dead, claw-like trees, and a sluggish black river that smells of sulphur, you can’t help but think, “Yep, somehow, sometime, someone here really pissed God off.”

Don’t get me wrong; most of rural England is quite picturesque. Even in mid-winter, there are charming little villages. You can even spot the odd animal frolicking in fields, but as you approach Bedford, they look increasingly frightened. Then you arrive. At first, you might think there’s nothing wrong; any town could look like this, if the garbage collectors went on strike for a while. You have an odd, clenched feeling your gut, but that could be a bad hamburger. Bad hamburgers feel like they’re slowly sucking the marrow out of your bones, right? Sure.

It’s only when you’ve been here a while that the true horror of Bedford reveals itself: it’s unrelenting. You think, “All right, so people here look like extras from Dawn of the Dead, but that’s just because they choose not to care about personal grooming for some reason.” (I developed this theory after spotting a guy who looked like Kevin Spacey, if Kevin was drunk and out of shape and didn’t own a hairbrush.) Then you pass a guy afflicted by a plague of boils, and realize: No. It’s not a choice. It’s biblical.

I wrote about Bedford last time we visited, and since then it has managed to get worse. I didn’t think that was possible. I mean, once the entire town is made up of people either begging for money or actively stealing it, what’s left? Once the wail of emergency vehicle sirens is constant, do you really notice any more of them? But then I ran alongside the river Ouse, past what at first I thought was a rubbish dump but turned out to just be someone’s back yard, and a goose tried to mug me. I think it had a switchblade.

So it’s almost 2008. I’m very much looking forward to ‘08, because, writing-wise, 2007 blew. It started off well. It’s just that it then took a sharp turn into soul-destroying, heart-breaking stultification. I think this must be what happens when you start the year with a blog that says, “Man, I’ve got this writing thing nailed.” So: okay. Lesson learned, ha ha!

Yep, I’m feeling much better about 2008. I won’t have a book published, or a movie released. But I will write.

And, with luck, I will get out of Bedford without being stabbed.

It’s good to have goals.

Thank you for following along my web site, and reading my stuff, and caring, even if only a little. It means an enormous amount to me. Sorry for the hold-up, but give me a little time and I’ll have some books that are worthy of you.

Comments

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David Robson (#342)

Location: Home of the Simpsons and Abe Lincoln
Posted: 4164 days ago

Don't forget your short story "How I Met My Daughter." While not a novel, it was a great read...funny and then unsettling. Of all the books and stories read this year, it will be one that stays with me. In the most positive way, it reminds me of a Shirley Jackson shortie.

(PS...I don't think Kevin Spacey will be needing a hairbrush much longer.)

Carly (#2091)

Posted: 4164 days ago

Consider yourself lucky, Max- you've never been to Angola, Indiana.

Happy new year!!

John Reynolds (#2534)

Location: New York, USA
Posted: 4164 days ago

Happy New Year Max! Glad to hear you've still got a positive outlook on the whole writing thing, I don't know what I'd do if I had to recognize the fact that there would be no more Max Barry novels I don't know if I'd make it through 2008. Good Luck and Happy New Year!

Machine Man subscriber David (#1456)

Location: Sydney, Australia
Quote: "Why are the pretty ones always insane?"
Posted: 4164 days ago

While your annual rants about the charms of Bedford are always amusing I can't help wondering why the city fathers still let you stay there. Surely given Britain's now almost maniacal desire to keep out undesirable foreigners all it would take is for the local mayor to make one phone call to the immigration enforcers in HM government and you would be banned for life from entering the country (after spending the rest of the winter in some miserable immigration detention facility that would probably be an improvement over Bedford)?

It seems they just don't care how their shire is presented to the rest of the world. Who would've guessed?

Jeffrey (#2286)

Location: Right here
Quote: "Mathematics is a powerful language. Just look at how mathematicians destroyed the housing market."
Posted: 4164 days ago

Happy New Year and don't get shanked : )

Machine Man subscriber sean kearney (#3037)

Location: Denver, CO
Quote: "patternhunter@gmail.com"
Posted: 4164 days ago

This year did kinda suck in that The Exceptionals isn't on shelves! I am still optimistic that some publisher will pull his head out of his ass long enough to see the light that does not reflect off Fabio's impressive, but nevertheless overexposed, pecs. In the interim, I am hoping that fans will at least be able to purchase the manuscript [my credit card or paypal account are ready and waiting].

The good news is that my boys and I did get to meet you in Denver and hope to you again in the near future.

Graham Mah (#2425)

Location: Canada
Quote: "In the dream of the dreamer the dreamed one awoke."
Posted: 4164 days ago

No wait is too long for your next work, assuming that wait precedes my death. You're welcome to our support as well as our thanks in return for all of the great material you've put out over the years.

Machine Man subscriber Roger (#1653)

Posted: 4164 days ago

Happy New Years, Max!!!

...

...I don't really have much else to add...

...See ya

Morgan Jeske (#3027)

Location: Vancouver BC, Canada
Quote: ""Well. That happened.""
Posted: 4164 days ago

Thank you for your work. Happy New Years to you and yours.

Michael Ricksand (#2212)

Location: Terra
Quote: "You do not have a right to be stupid."
Posted: 4163 days ago

Happy new year, Max Barry! (Last name only seems too formal, first name only seems like I'm a creepy fan/stalker assuming I'm your bestest pal in the whole wide world.)

Will (#2384)

Location: In the depths of Yorkshire.
Quote: "You can only be young once. But you can always be immature."
Posted: 4163 days ago

I really hope you don't get stabbed.

Though i'm sure you could turn it into an entertaining story for your blog... But isn't that just excessive research?

anyway; happy new year! And thank you so much for a great blog, good luck getting out of Bedford alive - it sounds like the South's version of Bradford. (Pattern with the names?)

Linnea1928 (#2654)

Location: Rosemount, MN
Posted: 4163 days ago

Happy New Year Max... and good luck with that whole escaping England with your life thing.

Kit (#850)

Location: UK
Posted: 4163 days ago

Happy New Year, I got company for christmas and read through it, it was awesome.

Justin (#2009)

Location: Halfmoon, NY
Quote: "Max(x) is awesome!"
Posted: 4162 days ago

Happy New Year!

JB (#2465)

Location: Southern Illinoise
Quote: "I love you so much, now let's get something to eat."
Posted: 4161 days ago

No prob Max! I look forward to re-reading your work and spreading the word as much as possible. Happy New Year!

jessica (#3063)

Location: austin, tx
Quote: "You can't start a fire worrying about your little world falling apart."
Posted: 4160 days ago

you know, i think that God has put Bedford on the map as a cautionary tale. it makes you really think about what the real Hell would be like.

happy 2008, max!!!

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 4159 days ago

5 Jan 2008

MILK? AGAIN?

So I've been watching a few old movies. And it seems the old people in these old movies have some sort of sleeping disorder. They can only get to sleep with a warm glass of milk. Who drinks warm milk?! Seriously! It's gross! It's like rotten or something!

That is all.

-adam speicher

Brenng (#3235)

Location: UK (sitting down)
Quote: "Laugh when all the world cries and they'll lock you up for being an antisocial freak. www.brennigjones.com - there's a laugh in there somewhere!"
Posted: 4158 days ago

Bedford is what will happen to the rest of the world if the Evil Dwarves from the alternate reality that gave us GW Bush finally take over.

Happy New Year.
:-)

Super (#600)

Location: The Netherlands
Quote: "I'm not deaf I'm just ignoring you!"
Posted: 4157 days ago

Hey, there's a very belated :P review of Company online here: http://dogmatika.com/dm/books_more.php?id=3170_0_3_0_M

Ramir (#3380)

Location: England
Posted: 4156 days ago

That has to be the weirdest thing that has happened to me in a long time: I stopped by to ask why the Moderation team on NS have completely lost the plot, or if they took it upon themselves to have carte blanche powers to do as they please...

...but as it happens, I live only about 15 miles away from Bedford; I have to go through it a lot when travelling. I was there last Friday actually, and for all the humour involved in that blog, it really is that bad!

Don't worry though, *I've* never been stabbed there yet. You'll blend in well enough if you just slouch and shuffle past the gangs that meander through the town. ;)

Admittedly, Bedford does have the tendency to suck life away from people... hence becoming the undead. Try the Triangular Lodge in Rushton; it's about the only thing I like nearby.

Anyway, what I really wanted to ask was if you'd completely left NS as a Moderator? Because no offence, the last year of moderation has completely *sucked*. I don't care what daft ideas they've come up to invent new ways to accrue some kind of personal pleasure in throwing their *power* around. I've been playing for 3 years or so... and at least they used to have a sense of humour. To be honest, I think they've been killing cats again.

I could be more specific, but it's probably obvious from the declining numbers generally that they're taking it a bit too seriously. If I hear one more ''people of your calibre should respect authority and not mock it, because that's not setting a good example to adolescents'' I will actually throw-up in my mouth. ;)

Would be great to get a response on that, if you haven't been stabbed or robbed yet. Oh, BTW, don't go anywhere *near* the take-out food. It's more likely to eat you.

Hope you enjoy you're stay. :|

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: 4153 days ago

Happy New Year, Max! While you're in Britain, why not watch Shaun of the Dead? I kinda get the impression that the filmmakers know their way around towns like Bedford...

I'm glad that you're looking forward to a year of writing; since I pretty much began my first real job last summer (at an age at which some people had already conquered the world - or died of syphillis), I don't think I'll have the time to write this year - let alone the talent. Or ideas. So my New Year's resolution would be to polish the manuscript for my novel that's been lying around since forever and finally send it out to publishers. So in 2010 or so, when all the rejection letters will have arrived, I'm looking forward to introduce myself to strangers as a failed author. Gonna be a blast!

But enough of me. I wish you and the community here all the best for 2008 and thanks for another great year of blogging and writing.

Brian (#3397)

Posted: 4147 days ago

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7193820.stm

Apparently Britain is allowing research to commence in mixing human and animal genes to create hybrid embryos. If any of these poor souls survive their supposed 14 days until eradication, they'll probably be placed in Bedford.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 4146 days ago

Ha! I think they may already be here.

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: 4146 days ago

The article didn't mention what type of animals they'd use. Is it immature if I'd like to be a Ninja turtle?

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