Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Michael C. Smith is an attorney with The Roth Law Firm in Marshall, Texas, where he specializes in product liability, and complex commercial and patent litigation in federal and state courts. Smith has served as chairman of the Local Rules Advisory Committee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas since 2000 and is president of the Eastern District of Texas Bar Association. He has updated O’Connor’s Federal Rules: Civil Trials 2005 published by Jones McClure Publishing, Texas, 2005. It is a bulky tome (1200 pages) whose intended readership comprises lawyers and judges.
Smith’s book is a rulebook on procedure in federal courts, divided into ten main sections, which exhaustively deal with all the aspects of trials in civil courts. Half of the book’s volume details commentaries on the framework of procedures that are to be legally followed in a civil court. The commentaries deal with introduction to the Federal Rules, various considerations on part of attorneys and plaintiffs, proofs and evidences, judgment factors, hearings and pleadings, and all contained within and related to such issues.
The rest of the book deals with MultiDistrict Litigation Rules, Federal Rules (of Civil Procedures, Evidences, and Appellate Procedures), Code and Constitution of the United States, Advisory Committee Notes to Rules, the Hague Convention on Service Abroad, and eventually with Timetables followed in civil court procedures.
The author has taken care to refer district judges as the ‘district court’ and parties as ‘it’, presenting them as corporations (which they often are). This certainly has helped him make a gender-neutral voice.
An index categorizing the major topics with detailed sub-headings, alphabetically, has been added to facilitate topic search.
In sum, Smith’s Civil Trials guide is the law-professional’s complete source for advice and knowledge on every aspect of civil trials in the U.S.
Author’s Website: http://mcsmith.blogs.com/about.html
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Envy of the Gods (Bridgeway Books, Texas, 2006) is the first in Andrea Savitch’s trilogy of fiction. Set in the medieval world of Raalek, the tale gives an account of power-hungry Duke Atan Ishtba whose recklessness could not be checked by any means until the arrival of beautiful and willful Raphela. In 316 pages, Andrea Savitch circumscribes the peak period of the lives of her two main characters with sensuality and power as her motifs.
Savitch’s work has the desirable quality needed for every work of fiction, a smooth and fluent narration. Her use of language is creative and there are no verbal barriers in the reader’s progress with the book. Letting the reader know in the first page that the story of the Duke is told on the first night each spring readily induces the ambience of folklore. The story of the young Duke’s craving for power and Raphela’s passion for conquering him hooks the reader from the first few chapters.
Then the unwieldiness of the novel’s plot starts hovering over the mind. Little description of the Castle Cordan, the characters, and the social world, the emptiness of events and their causal unrelatedness all render the tale incapable of a deeper impact. Accounts of punishment and subsequent compassion are highly incompatible with the outlines of characters. The author’s unending concern with Mahtso’s chain bothers. Before late, the interaction of characters assumes a mechanical air that seems to linger until the meeting of Raphela and Nabus at the end, a scene touching in its unaffectedness.
The transformation of Atan into a man from a beast and Raphela’s victory in standing by her love of knowledge give something of a plot to Savitch’s tale. The title stays unthought of. It is the Absence of Gods that needs to be dealt with. The story of Svaitch’s ‘legends of power’ is not over and in the coming ventures a convincing conclusion can be hoped for.
Author’s Website http://www.authorsden.com/wwwraalekcom
Friday, May 05, 2006
Drugs, lies, murders, and hunt for the culprit at the root-a typical crime story everyone has been watching for decades. This time Yasmina Khadra sets the scene in Algeria with his (or her, if you would) political thriller Double Blank (Toby Press, Connecticut, 2005). We now know Khadra is the nom de plume of Mohammed Moulessehoul, an Algerian army officer whose books breach the underpinnings of violence in Algeria. It is easy to see where a modern political thriller like Double Blank ends up-at the doorstep of a crooked businessman cum politician. And Khadra gets us way up there.
Double Blank tells of police superintendent, Mr. Llob, who is set to track the hand behind a series of murders involving puppets in the drug market and the red-light district. Things get to a little higher level as clues point to a conspiracy theory living in a diskette. There is little new in the 140 pages of killings and investigation except its Algerian setting. You are watching Law and Order with some added action and subtracted coherence of plot.
Khadra’s book is a prey to many weaknesses. It is supposed to be a novel but the mode of narration is typical of a short story. The voice of the narrator in present has unnaturalness hard to put up with, especially in a story with events that certainly have taken place in the past. There is little true action in the story and the most blatant murders happen in two sentences. Lack of description leaves a very poor mental picture of the scenes. Characters too are extremely ill-defined and character development seems a thing alien to the author’s concern.
The most fatal slump of Double Blank is, perhaps, the quirky employment of humor throughout the telling of events. Superintendent Llob’s voice sounds detached from its inner care for peace by constantly gushing out twisted quips, many of which are too idiosyncratic to be appreciated. Clumsy experimenting it language and slack exaggeration for the sake of humor nullifies the effect of Khadra’s tale. In general, Double Blank falls too very short of a novel. It sounds like a story you try to get involved in as a reader and always find yourself far behind where you started.