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The first remarkable thing about this novel is that it requires a neologism just to describe the style in which it is written. If a novel made up entirely of letters is epistolary, then what are we to call one that consists predominantly of blog posts (with occasional e-mail)? Blogatory?

The next thing we need to note, and this is a concession I take no pleasure in making, is that despite what would seem the inherently transitory and rather trivial nature of blogs, it's an awfully good novel. No, the third thing about it: this is just about the funniest novel I can ever remember reading., We're talking laugh out loud, wife-wants-to know-what's-so-funny, funny.

I confess to never having read Mr. Blachman's blog, but I take it that he originally was an anonymous blogger himself. He apparently wrote from the perspective of a hiring attorney at a top-drawer firm, but satirized the profession and tha t particular environment. After building up a certain readership he was profiled in the NY Times, where it was revealed that he was actually a student at Harvard Law School and, one thing leading to another, he landed a deal to turn the blog into a book--and it has subsequently been optioned as a tv series.

I've not gone back to read the blog, so don't know how heavily he borrowed from himself for the book, but here the Anonymous Lawyer of the title is a completely self-absorbed, insensitive, blowhard who starts up a blog with the help of his niece and proceeds to reveal just how much he loathes his peers--one rival in particular--disdains his own family, and the utter contempt in which he holds the summer he interns he hires. He gives everyone nicknames, like The Suck Up, The One Who's Never Going to Get Married, and The One Who Missed Her Kid's Funeral, that might plausibly be intended to preserve his and their anonymity, except that it's obvious he doesn't even know their names and thinks of them by these traits. His descriptions of interoffice politics and of the abuses that are heaped upon underlings, often for no more purpose than to demonstrate one's own power over them, are brutal, but hilarious. And his depiction of how little life everyone has once they're done working their ridiculous hours is brutal and saddening. As e-mails start showing up from increasing numbers of fellow lawyers who are reading the blog it could appear that his identity will be exposed, but in one of the delightful turns that characterizes the book each person who's reading it assumes the author must work at their own firm. The Anonymous Lawyer is an archetype, not an aberration.

The final thing to say about the novel is that, against all odds, Mr. Blachman even manages to come up with a coherent and ultimately surprising plot line around which to structure all these comic goings-on. As the Anonymous Lawyer and his nemesis tussle for the job of new chairman of the firm, Mr. Blachman builds a decent amount of drama and tosses in some unexpected twists and turns, all without losing his grip on the comic reins. This may not be the first blogatory novel, and is almost certainly not the last,but it may long stand as the best, and absolutely the funniest.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

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Humor
Law
Jeremy Blachman Links:
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    -BLOG: Anonymous Lawyer
    -BOOK SITE: Anonymous Lawyer (Henry Holt)
    -EXCERPT: Excerpt from Anonymous Lawyer By Jeremy Blachman
    -ESSAY: Trials and Tribulations: What to Expect While Taking the Bar Exam (JEREMY BLACHMAN, 7/13/06, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)
    -ARCHIVES: Jeremy Blachman (Harvard Law Record)
    -ARCHIVES: "anonymous lawyer (Find Articles)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Jeremy Blachman< (Written Voices Radio)
    -PROFILE: Revealing the Soul of a Soulless Lawyer (SARA RIMER, December 26, 2004, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: Lawyer files scathing satire (Clayton Moore, July 28, 2006, Rocky Mountain News)
    -PROFILE: Anonymous Lawyer puts satire in book: Ex-law student expands his fictional blog character to skewer The Man (Jessica Berthold, March 23, 2006, Baltimore Sun)
    -PROFILE: The 'Anonymous Lawyer' publishes a book based on a blog (Correy E. Stephenson, 8/19/06, St. Louis Daily Record & St. Louis Countian)
    -PROFILE: Web site tells of woes of attorneys (C.W. Nevius, January 8, 2005, SF Chronicle)
    -ARTICLE: After (Billable) Hours: Lawyers hoping to escape drudgery trade one form of verbiage for another. (CAMERON STRACHER, March 24, 2006, Opinion Journal)
    -ARTICLE: Lafsky’s Last Laugh: Secret Legal Blogger Says ‘I’m Opinionista!’ (Anna Schneider-Mayerson, 1/23/2006, NY Observer)
    -ARTICLE: Interns? No Bloggers Need Apply (ANNA BAHNEY, May 25, 2006, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman (Jocelyn McClurg, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (Clayton Moore, Rocky Mountain News)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (SALEM MACKNEE, Charlotte Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (National Law Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (David Lat, NY Observer)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (Book List)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (Stuart Shiffman, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (Nancy Gail, BlogCritics)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (Larry Gandle, Tampa Bay Online)
    -REVIEW: of Anonymous Lawyer (

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