Most colas traditionally fizz with carbonated wonder, sweetly swashing in the mouth with the familiar caffeine bite in every swallow. Maxx Barry's Syrup is as close to the real thing as you can get: flowing with flavor, full of pop, and heavy on the bite. This novel is a refreshing piece of literature to pull from your local bookseller's shelf and knock back during the summer months.

As anyone in the real cola industry will tell you, the heart of the world's most popular soft drink is in the syrup, which is added to carbonated water to make what we call cola. Barry uses cola syrup as a metaphor in his novel Syrup. This story is a tale of success, or at least how to achieve success marketing beverages in a comically cutthroat manner. Scat, alias Michael George Holloway, is our chief conniving marketing scud, hell-bent on making millions on every wild get-rich plot that occurs to him. His first venture is a new cola concept, produced by the Coca-Cola corporation. Aimed at the disenfranchised and at Gen-Xers, the name of the new cola is meant to impact potential readers and customers like a hard swallow. (Unveiling the name of the new cola is tempting, but would undermine some marketing credo in Syrup, so it will remain unrevealed.) Scat is also surrounded by such comic characters as Tina, Sneaky Pete, @, and the frosty cold but tall and smooth 6. Syrup is refreshing and entertaining. The style and wit are layered flavors of Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Woody Allen. Maxx Barry's experience in marketing makes Scat and Company's unbelievable marketing schemes seem quite plausible. Best grab this book this summer and slam down a gulp or two of something fun, strong, and satisfying. Syrup is simply the next best thing to the real thing.

Kevin Zepper writes from Moorhead, Minnesota.

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