I just finished reading Jeremy Blachman's book, Anonymous Lawyer, and I have to say, it lives up to the hype. My blog links to the Anonymous Lawyer blog, and that site is funny, to be sure. Biting, outrageous, and a great laugh. But sometimes not the latter. Having worked at big firms for nearly a decade (and having lived to tell about it), all too often it hits too close to home.
But as good as the blog is, the book is better, at least in a way. What makes the book stand out is that it has a clear story arc, and the conceit of telling the story via blog entries and e-mails is used to superb effect. I also think the story arc helps the character's voice in the book remain more consistent than on the blog. The feel of the book is somewhat akin to Allison Pearson's debut novel, I Don't Know How She Does It, which although not exclusively told in e-mail format did use e-mails to move along a story about Jerks in an Office (how's that for a movie title?) and convey the pell-mell, high-stress, 100% burn-out culture of modern, large business to great effect. Except the main character in that book had not lost (or at least misplaced) her soul.
As with any satire, Anonymous Lawyer occasionally goes over the top, but I suppose that is the point. And as Blachman himself said in a New York Inquirer interview, one of the scariest aspects of the blog is that whenever he made Anonymous Lawyer's behavior more outrageous, someone would e-mail with a parallel story from real life. Which proves yet again that truth is stranger than fiction.
My favorite moment in the book? It has to do with sending a summer associate (the Suck Up) to Belize. That and the moments when Anonymous Lawyer thinks he is being smooth and presenting a positive, professional face to the world. It's pathetic and creepy. And very true to life. I am pretty sure I met or practiced with his Anonymous Relative at some point during my career.
There are scads of other reviews out there for the Anonymous Lawyer book, and they can be linked to from the Anonymous Law Firm site. Take some time to review that site if you haven't done so already, since it too is wicked satire. Perhaps the scariest part of all for me is that Blachman has never worked at a law firm, other than as a summer associate. He is either one smart and insightful man, or lawyers at big firms are transparent. Or both.