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Its Just Syrup and Water
It’s Just Syrup and Water
There is a grand war going on in today’s world that many of us are unaware of, but are affected by everyday. This war takes place at home, on the highways, in magazines, and in stores. It is the war of marketing. Just about every company that sells something is in this war, with each competitor using catchy slogans and false perceptions to try and persuade the consumer into choosing their product over the other companies’ product. And Syrup, written by Maxx Barry, tells the story of this war in its own little way, using satire as its main weapon. He uses Syrup to satirically compare his characters to real world marketing and emphasizes this through making his novel seem like an ad campaign. Enjoy.
As a former employee of Hewlett Packard and a teacher of marketing, Maxx Barry knows a thing or two about the marketing world (Maxx: the bio). He even markets his name. Maxx Barry is actually Max Barry (Maxx: the bio). He added another x to his first name to make it look cooler, which, in fact, is actually a simple marketing technique. From his old job, Barry took a lot of what was around him and made it into Syrup. Although much of the novel may be exaggerated, it still retains the basic structure. Barry also has taught marketing at two major universities in Australia (Maxx: the bio). This shows in his novel. He has mini lessons at the beginning of each chapter, telling various marketing strategies that are used by major companies. Some other influences his career has played in the writing of Syrup can be seen in the characters and lingo used in the novel, many of which was picked up while he was working at Hewlett Packard. However, he has never actually been to America, and this is where the story takes place. So, in turn, he took what he saw on the television in Australia and used that as his backdrop. He calls it “TV America.”(Maxx: the bio) As for Barry’s writing style, it is quite original, considering this is only his first novel. It can best be expressed as “short and snappy like a series of TV ads”, as described by Barry (Maxx: the bio). And this is extremely true, as can be seen just by reading the first page, where the pages are split into sections by bubble graphics. His sentences are full of energy and he employs loads of humor and satire throughout the novel. Barry writes with a purpose of creating suspense to make the reader keep going to find out what is going to happen next. He also employs lots of character divergences where they often fantasize and daydream. This helps build up the characters’ personalities by letting the reader delve into these characters’ psyche.
Now, let us move onto the plot structure of Syrup. Barry has a unique style of telling a story and he also has a unique way of putting together a plot. The pages read as if they were a series of TV ads. This contributes to the plot of the story. Since the basic premise is to satirize the marketing industry, this type of page set-up adds to the humor as well as the plot. This, in turn, rolls into the flow of events in the story. There is not a single moment in the book where something is not going on or ideas are not being thought up by the characters. There is a constant motion. This adds to the plot because it keeps things on a fast pace and allows for all the wacky events to take place. Speaking of wacky events, that is another aspect of the plot structure. How all the events and occurrences seemingly have something to do with one another is great. Barry turns one minute incident and has it affect the outcome of a much larger event later on in the story. For example Scat’s misfortune with the loss of his soda idea turns into a chance to run the ad campaign for the soda which in turn flows into him directing the biggest movie of all time. He also uses foreshadowing in the plot structure as well. For instance, the character name of Sneaky Pete is foreshadowing in itself. It kinda makes the reader think and wonder if he is a type of person that can be trusted or not. And as it turns out he cannot. Who would have thought? The plot is also extremely chronological. Barry employs very little backtracking, which in turn keeps the constant motion of the story going. If there is any sort of side tracking, it is usually beneficial to the outcome of the story. Barry strays away from using too much extraneous information so as to keep a pretty straightforward plot structure. Again, the information that is added does actually have something to do to the outcome of a certain event.
Next on the agenda is the main literary tool that Barry used throughout Syrup. This tool is satire. The entire book is satire, even the cover and the back of the book is satire. Now what exactly is satire? Satire is, in the modern dictionary, defined as a kind of literature that ridicules human folly or vice with purpose of keeping others from falling into similar folly or vice. Ok, so what does all that mean. Well it basically means that a satire makes fun of something or someone. And in Syrup the main target is the marketing industry. Barry uses his experience in the corporate world to constantly bombard the marketing industry with insider type humor that everyone will still be able to understand. However, the company that Barry worked for is not in this story. Instead he opted for Coca-Cola Company because of its international status and reputation for being a marketing powerhouse. Just about all the satire in the book revolves around Coca-Cola. Starting with the very first adventure that the main character, Scat gets into.
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