Pretty clumsy writing for a lawyer. More importantly, I couldn't stand the main character, Mitch McDeere. Critics gushed about how he's a likable everPretty clumsy writing for a lawyer. More importantly, I couldn't stand the main character, Mitch McDeere. Critics gushed about how he's a likable everyman, but to me he was a major asshole. He's excessively competent, has many of those characteristics we associate with TV geniuses (like a photographic memory), stays ice cold under pressure, and proves time and again that he's smarter than a whole firm of experienced lawyers, plus the Mafia and the FBI. We never get a hint of uncertainty from him, perhaps because the narration switches awkwardly to other characters at key times in order to obscure Mitch's machinations.
Also, Grisham does that trick of making Mitch come from desperate circumstances and do a whole lot of bootstrap-pulling, in order to get us to sympathize. But the improbability only serves to make him less human: who can come from poverty, barely make it into college, somehow make the jump to Harvard Law, get a Big Law Job with a Big Law Firm, and do it all without ever breaking a sweat or revealing a chink in the psychological armor?
It's almost like the Count of Monte Cristo, except at least in that book, Edmond's misfortunes are dramatized. Plus, those misfortunes have serious effects on his psyche that play out over the rest of the book. In The Firm, all we get are repeated asides about Mitch's past and glimpses of his mother serving waffles at a crappy Panama City restaurant. And none of that past does anything to Mitch except make him more determined to get rich or die trying. So that's a little too transparent for me.
That said, it's a legal thriller, and increasingly, I have a soft spot for those. So I liked it okay. ...more
- I thought Turow, in protecting the identities of many students and professors, distilled them all into way less interestNot really a fan. Problems:
- I thought Turow, in protecting the identities of many students and professors, distilled them all into way less interesting, one-note caricatures. The urbane, wealthy aristocrat who makes a diligent but unremarkable student. The nervous basket case who constantly sandbags himself yet gets great grades every time. The scrappy Italian kid from Jersey who balks at authority and likes to make his own way. The pretty blonde with crying outbursts whose frequency serves as a barometer for academic pressure. And so on. The professors were worse--the friendly young guy professor, the absent-minded but occasionally brilliant professor, and of course the bullying, intimidating but also undeniably engaging Contracts professor.
- Turow has it pretty good, yet he does an awful lot of complaining. He grouses about employment prospects for lawyers in 1975, which, while the legal market was certainly competitive, I don't think it was anything like as dismal as it is now. Plus, he mentions how steep the price is--3,000 dollars a year--several times, incredulously. Which makes the whole book seem hilariously dated. You know what that is in today's money? 13,000 bucks. 40,000 total for a degree. Yet tuition now at a top school is more like 50,000...per year. Add in living expenses in an area like Boston and you are looking at a quarter million dollars for a JD, if you are unfortunate enough to have to pay sticker price. That's after probably spending something similar during undergrad. So law school is a much dicier proposition now than it was than. End rant.
- I do see how egos and pressure can make law school more competitive than it has to be, and manufacture a lot of artificial work in addition. But weirdly, Turow didn't make the work seem that hard. I expected to come away happy that I would never attend Harvard, not perplexed at the big deal everyone seemed to like to make out of a work load that didn't seem out of control....more
Pretty awesome. I'll post a real review for this tomorrow, or at least quote some nuggets of wisdom from Ward "How Is This Guy Not Like 90 Years Old"Pretty awesome. I'll post a real review for this tomorrow, or at least quote some nuggets of wisdom from Ward "How Is This Guy Not Like 90 Years Old" Farnsworth....more
Enjoyed reading this as I got further and further in, but in general, it could have used more sled chases, space fistfights, and intrigue, and fewer gEnjoyed reading this as I got further and further in, but in general, it could have used more sled chases, space fistfights, and intrigue, and fewer glimpses at Stephenson's decidedly unappealing political philosophy. Stephenson is a capable writer with interesting ideas and a flair for the badass, but this is not an example of him playing to his strengths....more