Law and Conversation

June 18, 2010

Lawyers who write fiction

Filed under: Books and writing,fiction,Law,lawyer writers,reading — Helen Gunnarsson @ 10:46 am
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So many great fiction writers turn out to have been lawyers, or to have trained as lawyers, including the great 19th century writers Dickens, Eca de Queiroz, and Balzac and modern writers Scott Turow and Alexander McCall Smith, to name only a few. 

I’m now reading a slim but intense volume of short stories depicting contemporary Zimbabwe by yet another lawyer who’s also a fine fiction writer:  “An Elegy For Easterly,” by Petina Gappah.   Gappah, now an international trade lawyer in Geneva, Switzerland, won The Guardian’s First Book Award for her collection.  Her website and blog are worth checking out for her essays about writing, literature, Africa, and the world, as is this review of 2 Zimbabwean memoirs that she recently published in the London Sunday Times.

In one of her recent posts, Gappah provides a link to The North Korean Random Insult Generator–great fun!

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June 17, 2010

Trials in literature

Filed under: Books and writing,fiction,Law,reading,trials — Helen Gunnarsson @ 10:01 am
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The trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, which began last week in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, made me think about depictions of trials in literature.  Apart from the contemporary works of Chicago’s own terrific novelist and lawyer, Scott Turow, not to mention presiding Judge James Zagel’s thriller, “Money To Burn,” and, of course, the works of John Grisham, the following books came to my mind:

1)      To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

2)      Pudd’nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain

3)      An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

4)      The Trial, by Franz Kafka

5)      The Stranger, by Albert Camus

6)      The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

7)      The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe

None of the trials in these works, however, bears any similarity to the issues surrounding the Blagojevich trial, and I’m disappointed for not being able to think of any good similar fictional depictions.  Professor Daniel Solove of George Washington University Law School provides a list of fine works of literature with legal themes on his faculty website, but not all of these contain actual trials.  I can’t help thinking there must be a number out there; readers, can you think of some I’ve overlooked, especially trials involving allegations of political corruption from other times (i.e. centuries) and places?

Among a number of other good sources, I’m enjoying looking at The Blago Report’s daily analysis of the trial.  Don’t know why that writer, who, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn is Phil Smith of Tampa, FL, doesn’t provide his name on his site (unless I’ve missed something really obvious, which has been known to happen); perhaps he’s concerned about being overly self-promotional, but I think he should take more credit for his articles.   You’ll find a list of other bloggers and tweeters about the trial at the link for Zorn.

June 14, 2010

Twitter is for trials!

Filed under: Law,Social media,Technology,trials — Helen Gunnarsson @ 1:01 pm
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If you’re fascinated as I am by the high-profile federal corruption trial of former governor Rod Blagojevich and his brother but actually have work or other obligations that preclude your attending the trial in person, the next best thing is following the Twitter feeds of journalists who are live tweeting it.  I’ve set up a list at http://twitter.com/HelenGunnar/blago-trial of 15 (so far) journalists and others who are tweeting about the trial, either directly from the courtroom or from wherever they happen to be.  I’ve tried to limit it to those who tweet either exclusively or primarily about the trial, though some may tweet about other matters, generally related to Illinois politics and government.  Please tell me whether I’ve missed anyone whose tweets ought to be included, and I’ll be very happy to add that person.  If you’re a Twitter user, you can follow the list; alternatively, you can just check the link whenever you feel the need for a Blago trial fix.

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