REVIEW: Who Weekly

Barry Divola
September 20, 1999

The characters in Syrup have names such as Scat, 6, Sneaky Pete and @. Yes, they're all in advertising. Melbourne author Barry's debut novel cruises in the fast lane, with the story dissected into bite-sized chunks, as if Barry is well aware of his attention-span-challenged audience. This bitty style and image-obsessed cast so perfectly reflect the world Barry is describing that you can't put Syrup down.

Barry's antihero, Scat, is the only ad man in Los Angeles who doesn't own a car. Then, exactly six minutes after he turns 23, he hatches a million-dollar idea to pitch to Coca-Cola. Inside the belly of the beast, Scat is tossed around, sweet-talked and back-stabbed, before facing the two biggest challenges of his life -- producing the first advertisement masquerading as a Hollywood movie, and trying to win the affections of the devastating 6.

Tantalising marketing tidbits are sprinkled throughout the story: pick a random chemical in your product and heavily promote it; use large SPECIAL! tags on goods without reducing their price. Here's another: it shouldn't be too long before Syrup -- written more like a script than a novel -- gets sucked up onto the big screen.