Posts Tagged ‘Scott Turow’

A pessimistic lawyer, an optimistic dissident, and a fatwa

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Scott Turow talks very briefly about his new book here.  What’s the difference between his 1987 hit, Presumed Innocent, and this season’s Innocent?

“The practice of law is not the same,” he says. “The veneer has worn away. People realize that private practice is about money, and public practice is often about politics. These facts—which were demurely hidden from the public and sometimes, among lawyers, from themselves—are now in the open.”


Milani in the classroom (Photo: Toni Gauthier)

The same Stanford Magazine issue also profiles author and leading Iranian dissident Abbas Milani (we’ve written about him here and here).  In the article, Milani recalls a 2006 dinner at the Stanford home former Secretary of State George Shultz, where President Bush was a guest:

“When Bush met Milani, the president told him to stay after the other guests left. ‘I want to talk to you one-on-one,’ Bush said. Milani and Bush chatted privately for 15 minutes. Bush asked if there were any reliable intermediaries who could negotiate with the mullahs on Washington’s behalf. As they were leaving, Milani told Bush, ‘You know, you’ve got a lot of popularity in Iran for standing up to these guys.’ The president wheeled around and stared at Milani. Then he said, ‘You’re not bullshitting me, are you?'”

Milani seems an eternal optimist.  The most unambiguous supporters of democracy tend to be those who didn’t grow up under it. If democracy happens in Iran, would Milani board a plane for Teheran?

“Milani considers the question for a while. Outside, it has grown dark. ‘Many of my friends who live there tell me, even if you can come back, don’t. The Iran you have in your mind, that you love and miss, is lost. These guys have created a different animal.’

Then Milani brightens. ‘Regimes in my view are like relationships,’ he says. ‘If you have a bad relationship, the worst of you comes out. If you are in a good relationship, you do things you never thought you were capable of. You see colors you never knew existed. Democracy is like a good relationship. It really brings out the best in people.'”

His books have been banned in Iran, and he was last summer put on trial in absentia as “one of the most important leaders of the opposition.”

Meanwhile, also in Iran, Sakineh Mohammedi Ashtiani, an Iranian mother, could be put to death by stoning (or other means).  Sign an electronic petition for her here.


Molly Norris

Elsewhere in the Middle East:  Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is not a forgive-and-forget kind of guy.  He’s placed Molly Norris — the cartoonist  who helped launch the recent “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day!” before distancing herself from the campaign — on an execution list, with these words: “A soul that is so debased, as to enjoy the ridicule of the Messenger of Allah, the mercy to mankind; a soul that is so ungrateful towards its lord that it defames the Prophet of the religion Allah has chosen for his creation does not deserve life, does not deserve to breathe the air.”

Read about it here and here.

She joins a growing class of cartoonists, thinkers, activists and filmmakers who now must have lifetime protection by bodyguards, 24/7.

UPDATE 7/14 — Article at the Huffington Post here.


The Book Haven and yours truly got a nice mention in the thoughtful, often provocative Anecdotal Evidence — in a post called “Solitary, Silent, Compellingly Warm” (no, Patrick Kurp was not referring to moi).

The proof in the pudding

Saturday, June 26th, 2010
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”– John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck’s comment (discovered above, after three days of writing about the Steinbeck auction) adds another slant on last week’s New York Times review of Adam Ross’s Mr. Peanut, a thriller about marriage.  Bestselling author and practicing lawyer Scott Turow writes an insightful review of what sounds like a haunting book.  The review is here.  An excerpt with a local twist:

Nearly 40 years ago I was a fellow at the Creative Writing Center at Stanford. The director, Richard P. Scowcroft, who had helped his revered friend Wallace Stegner establish the program, told those of us in the advanced fiction seminar that the one subject he had always feared writing a novel about was marriage, because it still seemed to him the most complex and frequently unfathomable of human relationships, notwithstanding his own long and successful marriage.


Turow doesn’t mention that he endowed the Richard Scowcroft Fellowship in Creative Writing.  He has said that not only was Scowcroft, who died in 2001, “a distinguished professor of English and a fine scholar, but his works, such as Back to Fire Mountain, have been undervalued. Above all, his gifts as a teacher of creative writing are beyond dispute. He knew exactly when to bring you yet closer to being a good writer.”

Turow would seem to be proof.

By the by, Turow works most of his cases pro bono (including a case 15 years ago where he won freedom for Alejandro Hernandez, who spent over a decade on death row for a murder he did not commit).