29 March 2014

Reflective Blogging

The internet is a fast, noisy realm. To be heard is a challenge when so many online publications compete for attention--and these distractions multiply every second. Blogging provides the platform for a voice. Consistent blogging demands that writers keep up and learn either to cope with mistakes, never to err, or to revisit previous texts if accuracy is an issue.

All writing compromises between an idea’s perfect expression and what ends up recorded on the page with the words that do not stick to the tip of one’s tongue. In legal writing, accuracy is important. Legal blogging fuses both these issues and presents a choice: (i) post often to be heard; or (ii) post only when a text is finished and accurate, but risk never posting at all. In this post I discuss this potentially crippling problem with regard to Patrick Dunleavy’s Authoring a PhD: How to plan, draft, write and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation.

23 March 2014

The Blogging Lull Ends

Although the date written above this post is 23 March 2014, I write and publish it on 24 July 2014. The wrong date is listed because I decided to publish chronologically all the work I produced during my hiatus between 19 March 2014 and 24 July 2014. This post explains my break and my decision. To forewarn substantive-content hunters, there isn’t much in this post, which is more about honesty than anything else.

19 March 2014

A Western-Minded Easterner

The Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner (pp 240, Harper Collins 2014)

This review contains spoilers. As the book is superb, I recommend you do not read my review unless the summary in the following paragraph really sounds like it is not your thing.*

The Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner follows a young boy through Eastern USA early in the nineteenth century. That boy, Tom Walker, is written with remarkable characterisation. He sets off on a journey with his father to sell the latest Colt gun. Their purposes are simple: escape from New York’s economic and health problems; and get rich at the same time. Tom becomes stranded. He must try to recruit a travelling Texan Ranger, the only man capable of helping Tom return home.

15 March 2014

Novel Philosophy and Correlative Justification

The Art of the Novel by Milan Kundera (pp 167, revised edn, Faber and Faber 1999)

This is a book for readers who like the shapes words make on paper. I am the opposite. I like to write because I enjoy the ink’s crawl onto the paper. When I read I hope writers deleted from their final draft whatever they wrote under similar hypnosis. The Art of the Novel reads as if Milan Kundera did not do that here; as if he left pretty-shaped words and paragraphs because without them he would not have filled a book.

12 March 2014

The Bell Tolls Disappointment

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway (pp 490, Vintage 2005)

This might be the most tedious book I ever read. That is a pity because it is written well, according to all the stylistic rules. The problem is the story; it is a short story with one conceit and one interesting plot line, stretched to almost five hundred pages. Worse, that plot is introduced early, with nothing till its conclusion but meandering prose, repetitive scenes, and bland, flat personalities. The main plot engages. Whatever. Hundreds of pages that avoid that plot and even ancillary lines is a mistake. Intermittent goals and their catharsis might have saved the story. Without them, the narrative simply bores.

5 March 2014

Russian Pressure

Ivanoff: A play by Anton Chekhov (1887)

This review contains spoilers. Massive spoilers.

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright. He lived from 1860 to 1904. In that short time he wrote many plays and short stories--the success of which continued after his death. He is hailed as a dramatic genius. His work is a catalyst for criticism and debate. I use this review as an opportunity to evaluate the way Chekhov ended Acts to propel narratives in his plays.

1 March 2014

Still Vibrant at Forty-Six: Fuller's Anatomy

Anatomy of the Law by Lon L Fuller (pp 174, Penguin 1971)

Anatomy of the Law is a mere 174 pages but every leaf, except a few for miscellany, is packed with tight analysis. It is a little book with a lot to say. Although this review does not compare Lon Fuller’s with other legal philosophy, this work sits with the best--a tiny titan in a vigorously strong class.