The other day I picked up “Anonymous Lawyer.” I’m about half way through it, and it is hilarious. The last book to make me laugh out loud this much was either Pride and Prejudice, or else Lucky You.
What makes Pride and Prejudice so funny is the characters. When we went to see the movie, we knew exactly who had read the book, because as soon as Mr. Collins appeared those who had read the book began laughing. He did not have to say anything; we knew him and we knew he was a total goober. It’s the all too real traits of the people involved that make lines like this one outstanding:
An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.
Even reading it here, I can hear Mrs. Bennett crying about her poor nerves. And having become acquainted with Mr. Bennett through the book, his deadpan comment is just what you’d expect him to say.
Lucky You is funny because it’s outrageous. Here’s the summary on Amazon:
JoLayne Lucks has one of two winning lottery tickets each worth a cool $14 million. She plans to spend it rescuing a local plot of swampland from a strip mall developer. The holders of the other winning ticket, however, are Bode Gazzer and his sidekick, Chubb, who want the whole $28 million. Afire with paramilitary fervor, Bode and Chubb need the cash to bankroll the start-up of the White Clarion Aryans before NATO takes over America with a handicapped parking sticker scam. They steal JoLayne’s ticket, but before they can cash it she mounts a hot pursuit with the help of local journalist Tom Krome. As they chase Bode and Chubb through the swamps and sleazy dives, dodging bullets and local religious fanatics, Tom and JoLayne leave a wake of mayhem and hilarity.
That isn’t even half of it. None of the characters are remotely believable, but the idiocy is darn funny.
Anonymous Lawyer is somewhere in between. It’s a spoof on big law firm life written as blog entries and e-mails by the hiring partner at one of these big city mega-firms. The book originated as a blog and a website. This is from the blog, and gives you an idea what the book is like:
I can’t wait for Monday morning. It’s rare I’m so excited, but I snuck into the office this evening to prepare a little surprise. Anonymous Son begged me to take him to the movies this afternoon. He’s been dying to see Snakes on a Plane, and even though it’s rated R, I figured he’s seen worse on TV or when he’s opened the door on his mother in the bathroom. The movie was as expected. He loved it and I was kind of bored, except it gave me a perfect idea. I dropped him off at home, then went on a bit of a spending spree and then down to the office. Snakes At The Firm. Planted a couple of asps in the conference rooms. We’ll see if that adds some fear and excitement into people’s day. I figure some junior associates or paralegals will come across them first, while they’re organizing the documents for a real estate closing or a will signing, and freak out, and then I can threaten to fire them unless they get back to work and watch them struggle with the decision between whether to return to the conference room and deal with the snakes or lose their jobs. I know they’ll choose the former, and then I’ll gather a crowd outside the windows to look in and watch the action. It’s going to be a great day. Snakes At The Firm. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
Now no-one is as evil as this guy. I read In the Shadow of the Law about a year ago, and I liked it, but some of the characters were way too evil to be believed. But In the Shadow of the Law was a serious book, so incredible characters were a flaw. Anonymous Lawyer, on the other hand, is satire. The main guy is crazy, but the craziness, I think, is exaggerated reality, not false reality. In other words, some of the things he says and does have a basis in truth. Take this example from the blog:
I heard a few of my associates talking about a Mardi Gras party as they were leaving the office this evening, so I asked if I could tag along.
I was kidding. I just wanted to see the fear in their eyes when they thought I was really going to invite myself out drinking with them. Because they couldn’t say no. Not to a partner. They looked at me funny, and one of them meekly said, “I guess so, if you want.” Another one said, “It won’t be much fun.” And the third one said, “I’ve got some work to do after all. I think I’ll have to pass on the festivities.”
And then I told them I had a new assignment that just came in, and they’d have to save their Mardi Gras for another night.
What’s the point of Mardi Gras anyway? If I want to see topless women all I need to do is have the recruiting staff set up an event for law students at one of our target schools and say the only way I’m taking your resume is if you have beads, and the only way you’re getting beads is… well, you know the rest. Doesn’t matter what we make them do as long as we take their resumes.
That’s funny. I doubt anyone would deliberately do that stuff. But surely these two situations are, at some level, familiar. Work makes unreasonable demands on time and women often face unique career obstacles.
I say all this to ask two questions.
One, am I right that the book (or the blog) makes some serious points? Or is it just stupid-funny? I’d really like to hear from anyone with some big-firm experience.
Two, for you humans (i.e. non-lawyers), is Anonymous Lawyer funny at all? Or is this whole thing an inside joke?