Yeah, that’s right. The headline says it all. I want you to buy my book. Today. Head on over to Amazon.com and get a copy sent to you. Those of you who have developed the habit of turning to the back page of the Law Tribune to get your dose of me these past eleven years can now get something more. There’s even a more recent photograph of me on the back cover.
Some of you will recall the piece of fiction that ran in the Trib years ago. It was called Dark Justice, and it spanned some 105,000 words, appearing in weekly increments of 1,500 words or so until then-publisher Vincent Valvo just couldn’t take wasting all that space on a failed piece of fiction, and began running ever longer segments simply to end the project. I thought I could play Dickens and thrive on serial fiction, or, perhaps, Thackery and write just a little each day, with a corpus steadily growing into something of substance.
I didn’t realize how hard fiction was. I’ve been scared off the effort for the past half dozen years. But the urge to write remains. I enjoy the process, watching the words cascade and tumble, sentence after sentence, and hoping to find a rhythm. Much to my infinite gratitude, not a week goes by where a reader does not stop me in some court or other to tell me they enjoy the weekly column. My head swells. I am such stuff as vanity and raw need are made. The critics simply mumble or scoff as I walk by.
Last summer I set my mind to the task of trying to write something about the courts. I thought it would be easy. I go to court almost every day they are open. I have plenty of stories to tell, and I have more nerve than sense: why not light up a couple hundred pages with incendiary prose? I attacked the project with relish, and then fizzled midway through, relying on material from columns written here and on a blog page to fill the volume out.
Putting it together was the easy part. Editing it was agony. I like to think I am pretty good with words, but, truth be told, I am a first-draft wonder, rarely pausing to look back once the send button has been pressed. This time I read and edited several times, as did helpful editors. In the end, I came to like portions or the book, and to tolerate other sections. A kindly editor finally called me to my senses and told me, simply, that the search perfection is endless; sometimes simply finishing is enough.
So I finished. I sent copies around to folks I know and respect. Much to my surprise, Gerry Spence wrote a nice, and flattering, introduction. I thought it brazen of me even to ask, given some of the things I have written about him and the Trial Lawyers College. Yet, there it was, several pages praising the work. He’s a class act.
I also sent a copy to F. Lee Bailey, with whom I once worked a complex case, and from whom I from time to time accept referrals. I fully expected him to decline to write, but he, too, wrote a glowing assessment of the work, while not sparing some well-deserved barbs. It serves as the foreward.
John Williams, my best mentor, got pushed to the afterword by the publisher. I shudder to think of what he will say of that when next I see him.
I also got comments from Andy Thibault, Mike Cernovich, Jim Nugent, Timothy Moynihan, David Clark, Robert Fogelnest and others who I am sure I am forgetting.
Of course, these are friends, mentors and colleagues. I am sure the reviewers now getting notice of the book will have things to say. Notice is being sent to every legal journalist in the country. I mean to create a splash, if I can. I’ve whetted my appetite for controversy on these pages, and thanks to you, the folks who’ve egged me through the course of some almost 600 weekly columns, I have come to think I am pretty good at stirring pots.
So let me end where I began: Buy my book. Not that I need the encouragement, mind you. The sequel is already half-done, and I hope to have it out early next year. It, too, is about the courts. I can’t get enough of them, you see. By the way, the title of the new book is Taking Back the Courts. You see, I think they’ve been hijacked ...
I am trying to summon the courage to try fiction again, but reality seems odd enough, and so difficult to capture. Wouldn't you agree?
Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.