Publisher and author Cameron Stracher left Taste at the door and laid the gavel to legal bloggers in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.
For those of you who missed it, here’s the substance: legal bloggers are largely frustrated lawyers who want to be the next Grisham, Turow or Scottoline. And writing a book is far different from tapping out a blog:
Quotidian blog entries succumb to what the late author Frank Conroy called “abject naturalism,” the agglomeration of details devoid of larger structure. Without a clear narrative thread, a blog is simply sound and fury, signifying nothing but misplaced ambition.
Ouch. Yes, I had to look it up.
That would have been enough to make the meek among us crawl back into our cubicles. Mr. Stracher, however, can’t resist the full court press:
Good writing, contrary to the advice of your creative writing teacher, is about more than what you know. The world these writers are trying so desperately to flee is not a world any of us would want to visit for more than five pages: the overbearing boss, the dehumanizing office, the mindless drudgery. It might have worked for Kafka, but only after he turned himself into a cockroach.
The mini-bio at the end of this legal blogging steamroller discloses that:
Mr. Stracher is publisher of the New York Law School Law Review and author of “Double Billing: A Young Lawyer’s Tale of Greed, Sex, Lies and the Pursuit of a Swivel Chair.”
Missing from this is that Mr. Stracher more than a law review publisher, he is a Professor at the same law school. My law review didn’t have a publisher, but we did have our own coffee maker.
Given the slant of Professor Stracher’s WSJ blog-bluster, another fact would have been relevant: he is a blogger himself. Maybe not technically a legal blogger, since his blog is entitled “Dinner With Dad.” The subtitle, “A Blog for Hungry Parents,” lets us know that it’s not for everyone. Here’s an entry from yesterday, after putting the WSJ op-ed to bed:
No cooking for me this week — not since the gnocchi. I’ve been traveling for a conference, and an out of town dinner. It’s actually the second week I have failed to make my commitment of dinner at home 5 nights a week. As with the first failure, however, I don’t feel badly; rather, it makes me realize how important these dinners have become, and how diligent I’ve been (for the most part) in making them happen. So I won’t lash myself with a wet udon noodle tonight.
Then the other meatball drops. This is really a blog on its way to a book (like Scoble?):
Meanwhile, as chachlilmum noticed, I have another Taste piece in the Journal today, this one about lawyers and bloggers, of which I am one. What I have found, as I write the book, Dinner with Dad, is that it’s completely different from this blog, and uses almost no material from it. Rather, the blog is a diary filled with the signposts of this year to remind me where I was as I try to create and shape a book based on that year. Will I be successful? Who knows. But at least I’ve had a lot of good dinners.
Welcome to the club, Cameron. Here’s an alternate title for your upcoming book:
“Kafka in the Kitchen.”