“[T]he law is a calling which teaches you that most of life is about adjustments, the seatings and reseatings we perform to accommodate events occurring outside our control and over which we might not have sought control in the first place.”
A rough translation might be as follows: what the law teaches is that all the world is Humpty Dumpty, and it's not easy putting it back together again, not even for lawyers. At the climax of the story, this is all the lawyer-character has to say about “the law,” and it rings false. In “Puppy,” another lawyer-character says, “The law is an odd calling.” Oh, and he’s bored with his life too.
My territorial instincts cause me to wonder why fiction writers--even those as skillful as Ford--should be allowed to channel lawyers. He’s not a lawyer. How can he possibly understand? Now, I realize this position betrays my own arrogance. It also leaves out that Ford did attend some law school and clearly admires lawyers.
Still, I stand by the criticism. In Ford’s fiction, characters are defined and hedged in by their choice of profession. Ford’s lawyer characters seem the most hedged in of all. But to someone who wants to pay the money and serve the time to get the degree--what better profession is there? A world of possibilities and options are available to lawyers. Only the unimaginative are cut off by their embrace of the “calling of law.” Maybe Ford’s lawyer characters are all unimaginative, but if so, he’s painting a second unfair picture of lawyers.
If you’re going to read Richard Ford (not to be missed despite the lawyers), read him for his take on marriage and adultery. On these themes he has few equals.