How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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The Anonymous Lawyer idea is actually really lame.

Blachman imagines a mix of incompetent people, competent and well-meaning but ocasionally misguided people, and others who seem only to ask sensible questions at the wrong times, and goes after them with vitriol.

Has anyone stopped to ask why? Howe is it entertaining to read posts (or books) about fake people being criticized for things they never did?



wt: Yeah, I remember when that guy Yossarian was criticized for wanting to quit the Army. As it turned out, Yossarian didn't even exist. Some guy named Joseph Heller made him up.

As you point out, that wasn't very entertaining. And it wasn't the only time that people were fooled by what is now called "fiction." As you point out, it's all very lame--and certainly not entertaining.


I don't have enough knowledge about Heller's background to know if he had any military experience, but your point is well-taken that fiction authors don't always need to be experts in their subject matter.

But your post proves way too much. Is all fiction writing entertaining? Can anyone make up characters and automatically be profound?

The Anoymous Lawyer reminds me of a bad stand-up comedian who talks about situations that never happened in order to get laughs. Since there aren't any constraints on his narrative, making up stories actually has little instrinsic humor value to the rest of us.

E.g., a story about a really tense situation where someone breaks wind might be really funny if told to you by a friend in the proper context, and might be humorous if true. But a comedian saying, "Hey I was in this meeting the other day where someone farted" lacks the same humor because of the loose narrative that the comedian can construct.

In the same way, why is the Anonymous Lawyer entertaining. "Boy, my receptionist is incompetent. She plays solitaire all day. We are going to fire her." First, you don't have a receptionist, second, she doesn't play solitaire all day, and third, you can't fire anyone because you're a 3L at Harvard.

So the question is not whether fiction can EVER be entertaining/useful. It's why is THIS fiction entertaining/useful for some people?


Agreed. Whatever the dubious merits of Blachman's writing, the potential audience is highly limited. Really, law students are the only ones who would even be interested. Moreover, law students are a cynical bunch, and sense there is no longer a hint of credibility left, not only is he not a hiring partner, he isnt even a lawyer, there is zero chance that this will be a successful book.


Wt and whomever: This debate is interesting, although the points you are raising were already debated in December and January after the New York Times article first appeared. What has changed since then? Since then, Blachman has done something that thousands and thousands of writers every year find impossible to do: he has received a contract to write a first novel. And the contract isn't from just any publisher, but from Henry Holt and Company, one of the most prestigious publishers in the country. It means that Henry Holt thinks Blachman is a good writer and that his idea has exceptional merit. (And not only Henry Holt, but also some bigshot literary agent who presumably got involved after the New York Times article appeared and negotiated the book deal.)

So setting aside the questions of whether fiction "works" (I think it does) and whether the book will "sell" (who knows), you've got to hand it to Blachman for accomplishing all he has in such a short time--especially in light of all the people who, writing in a vein similar to yours, said it couldn't be done.

To all the naysayers: Please allow me this chance to say "I told you so."


Evan, the Catch-22 analogy is dead-on. I just can't believe it hasn't been done well before.

I might not like Jeremy's writing that much but I wish him luck.


if you don't like it don't read it.
Campaigns against reek of some sort of misguided jealousy


wt wrote:
"The Anoymous Lawyer reminds me of a bad stand-up comedian who talks about situations that never happened in order to get laughs. Since there aren't any constraints on his narrative, making up stories actually has little instrinsic humor value to the rest of us."

And Philip K Dick met aliens and teleported. And George Lucas traveled through space and landed on the death star. And Will Farrel was an Anchorman. And all of the Saturday Night Live comedians really had lived out those roles in real life. And Bret Easton Ellis was a serial killer. And Eddie Murphy really was a Nutty Professor. And Michael J. Fox really did travel back in time. And...
Your demands that authors of fiction have lived the experiences they write about are just absurd. You're a made up, fictional character, right wt? I mean, you're not really real, are you?


Not really on point, but just noting the reference to Heller, Heller had been in the military in WWII.

Of interest on that, however, is that in a late in life interview with Stephen Ambrose Heller commented on how capable everyone he'd servied with in the Army (Army Air Corps, I think), had been. Ambrose was stunned, as he thought, as I would have (and I'm not an Ambose fan) that surely Heller must have disliked the Army.

Nope, Heller informed him, everyone had been great and really competent.

Then why Catch-22, and the stuff in it? Heller told Ambrose he'd just made it all up. It wasn't based on anything.

Sandra Lee Sarkovic

I haven't read his book, but I used to read the Anonymous Lawyer blog regularly. Jeremy is funny.

Right now I am addicted to BitchUnhatched.blogspot.com.

Sandra Lee

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