Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Attention Lateral Appointment Committees: My New Book of Short Stories Has Just Come Out
Unlike almost every other professor I know, I've never been asked to do one of those "look see" visits at another school. And the one time that I did interview somewhere else, I was pretty much rejected about 8 seconds after leaving the building. But that is all about to change, because today is the official publication date of my new book of short stories, humor pieces, and paintings of irritated fruit, "The Adventures of Ed Tuttle, Associate Justice, and Other Stories."
The book is published by the awesome Quid Pro Books, run by the awesome Alan Childress of Tulane Law School, who was kind enough to take a chance with what is admittedly a borderline insane volume. The book contains 23 pieces, some of them kind of about law (there's a sitcom script, for example, called "Death Row," and a story called "Embedded" about a New York law firm partner who hires a journalist to live with his family and report to him on their daily doings so he can keep track of what's going on with them). The book is available in paperback and a variety of electronic formats. It's pretty cheap too. The Kindle version, for instance, is only six bucks. That's like only 42 cents a laugh. How can you beat that?
I actually think there's a Prawfy point to make related to the book. Except for two very short pieces that I wrote in the last few years (including the humor piece about what the confirmation hearing of Justice Sotomayor would have been like if it had been held before the 1978 Kansas City Royals instead of the Senate Judiciary Committee) and two stories which were written before I went to law school, I wrote all of the pieces during the six years between starting teaching and getting tenure. It was important for me in that period to have some creative outlet to keep me sane while writing a few of those 400 footnote battleship law review articles that one needs for tenure. Now that I have tenure, I feel less constrained about what I write and have been able to combine my interests in legal and creative writing in my other non-fiction books (Holy Hullabaloos and The Odd Clauses), thus making it less important to write crazy stories and humor pieces in my spare time. So I guess the Prawfy point I'm trying to make is this: if you're still a junior prof working hard to get tenure, don't be afraid to paint an angry pineapple from time to time. You're welcome.
Posted by Jay Wexler on August 15, 2012 at 10:04 AM | Permalink
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Great advice--I will have to pick up your book. I might also now pick up some paintbrushes and canvases.
Posted by: Margaret Ryznar | Aug 15, 2012 2:48:28 PM
Your links to amazon are broken.
Posted by: anon | Aug 15, 2012 2:51:54 PM
If only someone had reviewed it so others could know if it was really fabulous.
Posted by: Sal the Pineapple | Aug 15, 2012 7:22:31 PM
I know that Jay is, as always, trying to be funny, but there's something to be said for law professors being creative (which Jay certainly is). I've written a couple of short pieces for National Jurist about this sort of thing. Here are the links (via SSRN):
1. Why a law professor writes fiction:
2. Recommended summer reading list:
Posted by: Scott Gerber | Aug 16, 2012 7:55:03 AM
Is the lesson, given the self-deprecating remarks about lateral offers (and previously about tenure), and comments about the increased freedom tenure confers, really that juniors shouldn't be afraid to indulge in creative endeavors?
I would guess that the latitude to engage in less practical legal scholarship, and certainly less legal work or more creative endeavors, is narrowing before our eyes. And even when that work is done on top of the requisite scholarship, it might accurately be understood as revealing how the increased discretion tenure confers will be used. I am sympathetic to the view that this should only be done "off the clock" . . . and uncertain how that can be demonstrated convincingly, other than by demonstrating an exceptional rate of productivity in doing things for which tuition is being paid. That's a meaningful price to be paying.
BTW, I feel the same way about those engaging in compensated legal consulting, sextdecupathlons, or other time-consuming activities. Then again, it is rarer to see academics urging their pursuit as part of a professional duty, as opposed to as something done for their financial or other health.
None of this speaks to Professor Wexler's choices or achievements, but rather to take seriously -- likely mistakenly -- his suggestion, and sort of Professor Gerber's, that this is good general advice for youngsters . . . or even good publicity for those thinking about doing likewise. Otherwise, this is a fine and helpful book suggestion.
Posted by: Skunk at the Garden Party | Aug 16, 2012 1:08:54 PM