That's what they say. If you want to improve your craft, keep reading. Since living here, the changes in my lifestyle, however hard, have had one particular benefit. More time to read. And that has meant that I've read stuff I probably wouldn't have before. Despite my desire to enter the Mills and Boon competition though, I've never, ever picked up one of their books. Not because I don;t think they are good - I don;t know never having read them, but perhaps that is the reason why I'm struggling to write in their style. So for me, I think its good advice.
The Street Lawyer By John Grisham
John Grisham is very talented, both in the writing and legal world. This story is set in present day and is written from the view point of the main protagonist Michael Brock. Writing in the first person is quite difficult to maintain (so I'm told) but Grisham manages to keep the pace going and at the same time allow us to occupy the life of Brock for a short while. Brock is a savvy lawyer, working to live at a very savvy lawyers firm. The firm owns his life but when we first meet him, that's OK because of the financial rewards that it will bring him. But it has costs, his marriage for one, to Claire who to fill the void which was once love, is chasing her own career as a brain surgeon.
Then Michael experiences a violation of his world and is shown what life is like for many of the homeless in Washington D.C. He is taken as a hostage, along with colleagues by 'Mister' a victim of the street but also, it appears, of Brock's firm, Sweeney & Drake. The hostage situation is quickly resolved, Mister is shot dead by a sniper, but Brock is traumatised by the event, one which he left covered in the lifeblood of his captor. Brock starts to think about things differently. From the street perspective rather than the cocoon of Sweeney and Drake. He starts to question each and every one of his personal principles and finds that actually, they weren't principles at all. One word described them - greed. His colleagues think he's having a 'breakdown' and at first are very sympathetic, but the firm soon changes its tune as Brock discovers the reason for Misters desperate actions. Through a brief encounter with a mother and her four children Brock uncovers the reason why they all perished in a car, on a cold winters night. He is driven, along with the help of Mordecei Green the director of a street legal clinic, to seek justice for the lives he's seen wiped out.
The story is one of change, for Brock. He has left his wife, his promising career and the guarantee of financial security but he has gained a life and a moral standing. Wonderful scenes and images are created by Grisham's ability to get inside the characters head and show us who he is warts and all. A good read all round.