Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Europa Amie lawyer who loves a good story

Serendipity struck one night last week when I decided to check in with Twitter, because that’s how I happened to see Marie’s tweet and find out about the Europa Challenge Blog.

I’m a lawyer in Illinois, not currently practicing law but writing about it every month for the Illinois Bar Journal, the flagship publication of the Illinois State Bar Association. I can’t remember when I couldn’t read, and, like most people, I’ve always loved a good story. In thinking about legal matters and legal writing over the years, I’ve come to realize that the most effective way to explain a matter, whether in a brief addressed to the court or an article addressed to lawyers or others, is to think of it as a story. Once you’re in that mode, tell the very best, most vivid story you can about what you’re trying to explain, and your audience will love it.

Ever since I saw the cover of Muriel Barbery's “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” and read it, on the strength of its terrific cover and title as well as Cynthia Crossen’s review in her "Dear Book Lover" column in The Wall Street Journal, I’ve been hooked on Europa’s sleek and stylish editions. They’ve transported me into wonderful stories set in far distant places and helped me to feel like an up-to-date citizen of the world, all for the price of a book or a trip to the library. Wouldn’t it be great to have a complete set on your bookshelf?

Like Wendy, I’m going for the Europa Ami challenge of reading four new Europa Editions books by the end of the year. That’s quite enough for me to commit to: I generally have several books going at the same time, in genres ranging from fiction, classic and contemporary, to biography, to general nonfiction, to graphic novel. And, as anyone's must, my pleasure reading and writing has to defer to the busy-ness of life, including family, writing for work, and other personal pursuits.

Since I’ve already read several other Europa books, including Alberto Angela's "A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome," the "Old Filth" novels and stories of Jane Gardam (who's overdue for a Man Booker Prize win), and a couple by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, I’m planning on posting about them in the meantime. That will require me to reread them, not a bad thing, since I tend to forget the details. As someone said, "The best reading is re-reading."

I’ll be cross-posting on my personal blog, Law and Conversation, where I write about storytelling from a lawyer’s perspective. I hope you’ll come on over and check it out!