Saturday, July 26, 2008
Happy Hour is for Amateurs: A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession by Philadelphia Lawyer
I try to find something good to say about every one of the books I review. There is usually a story, a turn of phrase, a plotline that intrigues me, so I can provide a little something positive. Not so here. The book should be titled Another Chapter, Another Hangover.
In the first 50 pages of the book, Lawyer managers to misplace a large amount of mescaline, get drunk with an old college buddy before vandalizing their former fraternity house, and describe multiple instances of crude and demeaning sex (in vivid and occasionally disgusting detail) with a variety of partners who are chosen strictly for their convenience. I worked my way through the early chapters telling myself he's in college - lots of people are like this in college; it will get better. It didn't. He went from being a drunken, irresponsible grad student to being a drunken, irresponsible attorney. There is no message here. There are no truths about the law, there's not even much humor, just the not-so-surprising revelation that working for a law firm is just like working for any other business. The stories about drunken parties aren't even fun or funny - he seems to be having a fairly miserable time of it.
I also have to say that this book, as a friend of mine would say, does not pass the smell test. He claims he blew off classes, didn't clerk or work any sort of legal job and "didn't bother to buy the books" for his last two years of law school, yet he managed to graduate, get a job in private practice and pass the bar? According to my friends who have Been There, Done That this scenario is highly unlikely. He claims to be billing 180+ hours a month at a law firm, but spends all his time surfing internet porn and emailing his buddies dirty jokes. Impossible, at least according to friends who have some experience of the legal billing treadmill. His descriptions of his friends all seem the same: linebacker huge, with access to massive amounts of drugs and alcohol, vicious and destructive when drunk/high/etc and liable to smash your furniture, wreck your car or break your arm while in a narcotic haze. Exaggeration, at the very least.
The Philadelphia Lawyer is one of the latest blog writers to become an author. It can be done well; I have been reading Belle de Jour for ages (which should tell you I am not being prudish about his x-rated stories), and that has spawned 2 books (which I own and enjoyed) and a series on Showtime. This guy should have stuck to blog posts and dirty emails. Give this one a pass.