Skip to content


Since Mike has set the precedent of blogging on the law-prof-as-novelist trend, I’ll take this opportunity to comment on Jed Rubenfeld‘s Interpretation of Murder. But since I’m not as creative as Mike, I’ll catalyze the post with this little tidbit from the NYT review:

This much-hyped debut novel, a historical thriller by Jed Rubenfeld . . . deploys the surefire “Da Vinci Code” formula: titillation plus high-culture trivia. . . . The result is both smutty and pretentious.

I don’t know if this is fair; I haven’t read it. But I have been alarmed by the “winner take all” mentality of the business of books for some time, and this formulaic approach to literary success strikes me as sadly familiar. Add one part “historical thriller” (itself an odd amalgam of sensationalism and seriousness), one part big marketing budget, one part serious author, mix, and hope for explosive publicity and attendant sales.

Well, for those who prefer decidedly unthrilling entertainments, can I recommend Bob Newhart? Jonathan Yardley puffs that Newhart is the “funniest person on the face of the planet, probably in fact the funniest person who ever lived.” I can only attest that both his 70s and 90s sitcoms were among the best I’ve seen in that genre.

2 thoughts on “Entertainments”

  1. Any attention directed Bob Newhart’s way is good attention. Though it was only loosely justified by the subject matter, I played “Abe Lincoln v. Madison Avenue” for my Trademark Law class last spring. I think that the students mostly liked it, even if few of them had heard Bob before.

  2. I’ll have to take a look at that!

    I just wanted to add–maybe the NYT review of Rubenfeld was decent, all things considered. Just compare it to this savaging of Irvine Welsh:


    “Every few years, as a reviewer, one encounters a novel whose ineptitudes are so many in number, and so thoroughgoing, that to explain them fully would produce a text that exceeded the novel itself in both length and interest,” the Times’s designated reader, the British academic Robert Macfarlane, starts out.

    The novel. . . fails at every imaginable level. The prose is “lazy, cliché-ridden and exhaustingly repetitive”. The plot “yawns from implausibility to would-be obscenity – its prose is always bereft of insight, and frequently of competence”.

Comments are closed.