MaxBarry.com
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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 30
Jun
2014

Not Grinning, Not Dying

Max I think I must look like I’m smiling when I’m actually in a lot of pain. Like today, in the middle of a 15km (9.4mi) run, I’m barely keeping it together, so my face is a rictus of agony, my lips pulled back from my teeth in a skull-like grimace, and people running in the other direction are all, “Hi!” and big smiles and eyebrow jiggles. This has been going on for a while. At first I just assumed runners were naturally friendly. But there’s some surprise in their reactions, so I think I must be grinning at them. They are definitely not picking up my real feeling, i.e. that I am moments away from death. If they were, they’d look a lot more concerned.

My Dad would have turned 70 today. He was some kind of runner. I only began running after he died, so I never appreciated this. Now I realize his 2:45 marathons are practically superhuman. I can maintain that pace for approximately 10 minutes, and that’s while grinning.

I’m working on too many books again. Sorry about that. It’s a fast way to finish none of them. In the meantime, though, I am drowning in foreign editions. I love getting foreign editions. I could never throw one away. So I have shelves of Portuguese Jennifer Governments and French Syrups. And now a Chinese Machine Man! This novel gets the most interesting covers:

Machine Man cover. A faceless man with a robotic arm
holds a mechanical skull.

The new Lexicon paperback is still selling well, which is great but doesn’t quite free me from the constant terror of thinking my career could end at any minute. I’ve thought about the reasons behind this feeling, because it’s been there essentially the entire time, and have concluded it’s because when you’re an author, your career really could end at any minute. Each year it doesn’t is like a little miracle. I visit my Dad’s cemetery on his birthday, just to say hello and talk about the last year, so that’s what I’m going to tell him today: when I run, it looks like I’m smiling, and holy hell he was fast, and this last year, it has been another miracle.

Comments

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Machine Man subscriber Mapuche (#1184)

Location: Darwin, Australia
Quote: "Inconceivable!"
Posted: 1235 days ago

So does that shed any light on the expression 'winners are grinners'?

Robert Belton (#3176)

Location: The best city in australia.
Posted: 1235 days ago

Ahhh, any chance of procuring one of these French editions of Syrup, perchance?

Machine Man subscriber tim (#3234)

Location: chattanooga, TN, USA
Quote: """
Posted: 1235 days ago

I've never used the word morose in a sentence before. I guess I've saved it to use on today's blog post, with feeling. Seriously, I thought this was a short story about the saddest guy in the world. Cheer up, Max; can't be that bad.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 1234 days ago

@tim: It's totally not that bad. But I am missing Dad today. It's the ten-year anniversary of his death and I keep finding new things I wish I could have shared with him.

@Robert: There is! Email me. I will accept payment for postage in the form of cool drawings of the characters.

Machine Man subscriber tim (#3234)

Location: chattanooga, TN, USA
Quote: """
Posted: 1232 days ago

Max, understood. To be fair, I read this post in series with your last, which was also a little darker than the usual snark your deliver. Be well.

Adam Ford (#6723)

Location: Melbourne
Quote: "Free range, cruelty free, transhumanism - genetically modified for hedonic optima"
Posted: 1094 days ago

Here is the URL for the Chinese version of Machine Man www.99read.com/product/2045001.aspx

Jay C. (#6741)

Quote: ""Endless forms most beautiful." - Charles Darwin"
Posted: 1072 days ago

This is brilliant! One of my favourite novels. Been a year since reading it and still having flashbacks of the imagery. Have to say, though, that the Chinese title translates as "Machine Life".

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