SYRUP by Max Barry


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A rollicking debut about a cola marketing campaign that takes on Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and corporate America in one perfectly executed triple play. Although publicity and marketing are popularly associated with the advertising mavens of New York, those in the know understand them as peculiarly West Coast enterprises—and our narrator Scat is nothing if not in the know. “Marketing is like LA,” he explains. “It’s like a gorgeous, brainless, model in LA. A gorgeous, brainless model on cocaine having sex drinking Perrier in LA.” In other words: Image beats reality every time. Scat (nÇ Michael George Holloway) has a well-developed taste for sharkmeat, but even he finds himself continually brought up short by the venalities of the trade. Desperate to get a foot in some door or other, he asks his old classmate Sneaky Pete for an introduction to the New Products Manager at Coca-Cola—an old friend of Sneaky Pete’s named 6. 6 [sic] can only spare 30 seconds of face time with Scat, but that’s enough for him to pitch his idea: “New cola product. Black can. Called Fukk” [sic]. 6 falls madly in love with the concept—and Scat falls madly in love with 6 (despite her ice-cold exterior and her self-proclaimed lesbianism)—and the two get right down to the business of throwing together a presentation. Fukk Cola becomes very hot, very quickly, so much so that the idea is stolen even before it’s pitched to the Coca-Cola brass, with the result that 6 loses her job and Scat loses his rights to the concept before it’s a week old. But neither is the sort to say die, and they team up once more to create the most expensive commercial advertisement ever made: a $140-million feature film about Coca-Cola starring Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow. Can two twentysomething has-beens turn defeat into failure? Can they at least find true love? This is Hollywood, after all. A bit too slick, but funny and fast all the same: about as filling as cotton candy, but just as sweet going down.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-670-88640-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1999


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