the lawyer writer

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Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Authors I Have Known

If you haven't noticed, the grouchiness of my posts is directly in proportion to the crappiness of the weather. This is because I'm doubly hot-blooded--I'm South Indian, and I grew up in California. I therefore do badly in the cold.

Now that the weather is nicer, I will stop grousing about law-life, and turn to my companion subject, The Authors I Have Known.

I do not know many authors. There are clubs for us to hang out, but you always have to be careful or David Eggers will spike your drink. (that is a joke. I have never met David Eggers.) Anyway, if you're not doing the whole McSweeney's / Believer/glitterati thing, it's hard to meet other authors. And frankly, I've always been suspicious of the glitterati. I mean, I love the idea of the Algonquin table, but while Dorothy Parker and Co. were getting loaded and exchanging quips, James Thurber was at home writing. And I have no idea what I'd say to the likes of Bret Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney, unless it's "Gee, the movie was so much better than your books." As Mama told me, if you can't say something nice, stay home and watch the Simpsons.

That said, I did want to meet other authors--which, as you might guess from my repetitious terminology, is different than meeting other writers. I know plenty of writers and have a lot of respect for them. But I wanted to exchange war stories with others who had gone through the Publishing Experience. The Publishing Experience makes you a little less of a writer and a little more of a publicity hound. I was spending more time daydreaming of sitting next to Jon Stewart than penning my next great novel.

So this is what I did: I went to the Inspiration section of my bookshelf, and looked up some authors who, though successful, could probably not do much to help the sales of The Street Law Handbook. They did, however, look like fun people to have a drink with. I sent a copy of my book to three authors, all of whom responded with alarming friendliness. They--and their work--are described below

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Laren Stover (The Bombshell Manual of Style, The Bohemian Manifesto). Not enough can be said about this lovely, elegant lady. She left me an enthusiastic and warm message of thanks on my machine and, after some email correspondence and juggling of schedules, we managed to finally meet at her birthday party. A description of the party is under the entry "Music Television and Bohemian Rhapsody." Together, these two books of her seem to describe me completely--a person who can't be bothered to wear high heels, yet makes a significant number of business calls from the bubble bath; someone who aspires to be a maverick artist and yet feels faint leaving the house without eyeliner. These are my go-to books on slow days, and Laren is increasingly becoming my go-to person for creative ideas.

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Daniel Handler (A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Basic Eight). You may not have heard of Daniel Handler, but you have heard of his alternate personality, the literary, mysterious, slightly gothic Lemony Snicket. If you are an adult who loves literature overtly and The Addams Family covertly, you cannot do better than The Series of Unfortunate Events--even if you have to go to the children's section to find the books. A careful review reveals a host of literary puns and pop culture innuendo, and the books are a homage to the great landmarks of children's literature--orphans, spooky houses, conniving adults, curious inventions that save the day in the nick of time, a sense of Victorian foreboding. Lemony does not need my publicity efforts--he seems to be doing fine--but I really want adults as well as children reading his books. His adult fiction is pretty strong, dark stuff--and maybe it says something about my dark side that I love it. His next book is entitled "How to Dress for Every Occasion" by The Pope and he has promised to send me a copy. I wait with bated breath.

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Matt Maranian (Pad: The Guide to Ultra Living, Pad Parties: The Guide to Ultra-Entertaining) I have yet to either a) decorate or b) throw a party, without referring to one of these guides. Matt understands my lust for trash, my love of 1960's James Bond movies, the grooviness of tiki statutes, 50's lounge & cocktail music, The Rat Pack, Shag, and the true beauty of the retro-bachelor pad. He is responsible for the velvet Elvis in my bathroom, and for my leopard print pillows on my faux-fur loveseat. I longingly look through his party recipes--including adventurous appetizersd, cocktails served with skewers of fruit & vegetables, and his ability to use Sterno to set anything on fire. I know, at heart, that I am too lazy, that I will not make the Pink Chihuahua punch in a light-up punch bowl. For atmosphere I will just rely on red lightbulbs and incense and sending the Destructagons (i.e. cats) into the hallway. But the Pad books make me dream of a really swinging...well, Pad. Matt was charming and chatty in his email back to me, and I long to visit his Vermont vintage store in Vermont. Live in style: buy his books.

In conclusion? Authors are nice people. They don't always get enough recognition. They toil alone and like to know that someone is really Getting Their Work. I will be writing to more of them soon.

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