Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Readers Speak; We Listen and Learn

From Paul

A reader took me to task yesterday. Don, from Virginia Beach, VA, writes:
I just finished "Trial & Error," and, like all your books I've read, enjoyed it. I wonder, though, why you thought it appropriate to insult a portion of your customers by calling people that buy Rush Limbaugh's book a derogatory name? It seemed so out of place since nowhere else do you take a shot at anyone else's political beliefs. Do you hate Rush so much that you're willing to insult a portion of your customers just for the satisfaction of taking a shot at him?

Here's what Don is complaining about. Just before going into the courthouse to begin voir dire, shady lawyer Steve Solomon peeks into car windows in the Jurors' Parking Lot. He tells the reader why:
People leave clues about themselves everywhere, including their car seats.

A wad of traffic tickets. Defense juror.

"Guns and Ammo" magazine. Prosecution juror.

A book by Rush Limbaugh. Simple-minded juror.

So, Don, it was a joke. Not a very good joke, it's true. And now, on reflection, I think it was a cheap shot. Condescending and unfair. It's fine to mock Rush Limbaugh for his simplistic, misleading, and often outrageously false statements. But his readers and listeners should be permitted to draw their own conclusions without being slammed, even in jest.

Next, Andrew, a lawyer in Dallas, writes about a scene in "Trial & Error," where Steve Solomon tears the murder indictment in half and tosses it at the prosecutor, proclaiming it's nothing but a worthless piece of paper.

I had a DWI trial in Fort Worth this past Monday. After the prosecution read the "information" (complaint in Texas for a misdemeanor), I grabbed it as I approached the jury box during opening, and I referred to it as simply a piece of paper and "flung" it back at the Prosecutor's table. Needless to say, I got a Not Guilty verdict in conservative-ass Fort Worth after 20 minutes of deliberation. You the man!!! Keep them books coming.

Way to go, Andrew. Texas lawyers are ballsy, I'll say that. You could have been held in contempt...as Steve Solomon frequently is.

Finally, Richard in Detroit writes, after reading "Solomon vs. Lord":

As the father of a genius-but-mildly-autistic
child (Asperger's Syndrome) I thought the character of Bobby,
the nephew, was right-on-target and much appreciated.

Thank you, Richard. I've heard from many parents and teachers of autistic children. The best, most heartwarming letters I could ever receive.

Recently, a reader suggested a sub-plot involving Bobby that was better than the idea I was working on. As writers, our characters are real to us. To our best readers, they're just as real. I'd like to encourage my fellow Naked Authors to share their mail.


Jim Born, that pesky provocateur, has been taunting me. Last week, I posted goofy photos of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Phil Spector from the 1970's. So Jim challenged me to post some vintage photos of my own naked scribbling self.

I generally do what Jim says, if only because he is heavily armed. (Donna says Jim comes to bed "locked and loaded," whatever that means). So, I'm posting some photos from Memory Lane, potholes and all. Perhaps Jim will reciprocate, starting with photos of those wild parties at Florida State.

Paul, wearing lapels as wide as radial tires, and moot court partner Dan Schwartz display their modest National Moot Court Championship trophy. (New York 1971)

Your Naked Scribbler, with an excess of hair, white bell-bottoms, and a purple nylon Nik-Nik shirt. (Helsinki 1974).

Penn State Quarterback (and current CBS broadcaster) Todd Blackledge with your Naked Nittany Lion, wearing a blue velour warm-up suit of the sort favored by Paulie Walnuts. (New Orleans, New Years Day 1983)

Son Michael is surprised to learn on his second birthday that Naked Dad expects him to attend Penn State if he wants his tuition paid. Quick at math, Michael complies. (Coral Gables, 1983)

Paul windsurfs on the ocean in a twenty-knot breeze, making Naked Lake Windsurfer Jim Born insanely jealous. (Aruba 1985)

Following Hurricane Andrew, your Naked Sweeper clears rubbish at ex-spouse Alice's house. (Coral Gables, 1992)

Although your Naked Scrivener and Elmore Leonard share the same fiction prize, Mr. Leonard politely rejects Mr. Levine's creative idea that they pool their royalties and split them 50-50. (Tampa 1994)

After writing four books in 27 months, your Exhausted Scribbler is sent to a "rest home." (Rancho Cucamonga 2007)



  1. Interesting that I should come across this blog today. I was doing research on Aspberger's Syndrome and found this link. While reading I discovered several interesting connections:
    • I went to Penn State, too.
    • I am also a writer with a blog about writing.
    • I get no shortage of letters from readers pointing out my failures.
    • I'm not anywhere near as cute as Paul.

    Thanks for a great blog. I'll be back.

  2. Welcome to the party, Kathleen.

    We're gonna check you out, too. http://www.parlezmoipress.com/

    I love the title, "The Old Mermaid's Tale."

  3. The hair. The six pack. Now you tell me you get fan mail, too. What am I doing wrong???

    The windsurfing photo gave me a Slashback flashback. Loved that book.

    Congrats on the release of Trial & Error. Cheers to many more!!!!!

  4. Alas, Patty, the only six-packs these days are chilled bottles of Grolsch.

  5. Hey Paulie,

    Why so many pics of you with no shirt? You think you're Captain Kirk or something? :-D

    Way cool, though.

  6. Marianne,
    It was Miami. I lived in a Tiki hut, subsided on mangoes and lychee nuts, and spent every free minute on Key Biscayne, tearing up both knees playing beach volleyball.

    Shirts? We don't need no stinking shirts.

  7. Do you and Ted Koppell share hair? Is it like, you know, alternate weeks?

  8. Blimey, Paul, I wouldn't even know where to find photos taken in the 70's, in days of yore. Loved your post - especially the story about the lawyer in Texas who threw the information around.

    I did windsurf a few times, but became truly fed up with falling in and having the boom land on my head, then looking like a beached seal as I tried to clamber up on the board again - not very pretty, I must say. And that was in England, where the water was truly freezing in any case. There's a reason, right there, why people like me move to California.

  9. Windsurfing has a very steep learning curve, and many people give up on it...especially if they're starting in either waves or cold water.

    I was fortunate to learn the basic skills in 84 degree, flat water (Biscayne Bay), then move on to more radical sites such as Aruba, Maui, San Francisco Bay, and the Columbia River Gorge.

    Now, kitesurfing seems to have taken over, but I'm too old to try new stuff, and frankly, the water out here (So. Cal.) is too cold and too gray to be very inviting.

    True windsurfing story from Maui. I got a really painful deep thigh bruise when I took an ugly spill and the board flew up and whacked me right above the knee. I went to an island doctor for x-rays to make sure the leg wasn't broken. He confirmed there was no fracture, and when I asked if he could give me something for the pain, he said to forget about prescription drugs; he could get me some good Maui Wowie. And that's where I'll leave the story.

  10. Paul, you are a hottie. And I could've sworn that last picture was of me...

    Hope your Maui story ended with lots of chocolate and Doritos.

  11. A day late:

    Rush Limbaugh is an ass and anyone who buys his "books" is a simple-minded ass.

    That is not a cheap shot but a keen observation by your lawyer character.

    I cannot comment on your hotness, shirt on or off.

  12. David,
    I cannot bring myself to criticize your posting, if only because you list "The Big Lebowski" as one of your favorite five movies.

    The Dude

  13. The Dude not only abides, he does so with a great deal of forbearance.

    Thank you.

  14. Nice sweatsuit after that Sugar Bowl game. Todd Blackledge is now with ESPN after an emmy-nominated career at CBS.

  15. Paul, you studmuffin. You know who I am. Meet me at the usual time and place.