A week of newspaper humorists – today Mike Royko

Most of us in the Midwest remember Mike Royko from his years with the Chicago Tribune. He was a newspaper columnist who wrote about serious issues – many of them Chicago issues . . . he was always after city hall, the common council, and the mayor – and he often used satire to make [...]

Scott Turow on the future of the novel

With movies and video games stealing away future readers of long-form fiction, might the novel as we know it one day disappear? There are people who worry about this, but not Scott Turow. He writes bestselling legal thrillers. “I have no worries whatsoever about the survival of the novel,” Turow told NPR’s Scott Simon in [...]

A sequel for Scott Turow’s “Presumed Innocent”

Who’s the more successful writer/lawyer, John Grisham or Scott Turow? John Grisham, based on the number of books he’s written (24 novels and one nonfiction book), total sales (in excess of 250 million copies), and the number of movies made from his books (13, three of which are either currently in production or under contract). [...]

A pilot’s life

Sully Sullenberger putting US Airways Flight 1549 down in the Hudson River – the jet lost both engines when it hit a flock of geese – may be the best thing that happened in the pilot up to that time. At least that’s what I concluded after I read Sullenberger’s memoir, Highest Duty (HarperCollins, 2009). [...]

The actors who made “Law & Order” so great

As important as the writers were to Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” television series, so were the actors. The show drew generously from New York’s City’s pool of Broadway actors. Here’s a short list of those who played starring roles: Steven Hill, Michael Moriarty, Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, Jesse Martin, Paul Sorvino, George Dzundza – [...]

Law & Order’s last show tonight

After tonight’s two-hour episode, Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” television series trundles off to rerun heaven. The show’s done. NBC and Wolf couldn’t agree on terms – the price – for a 21st season. “Law & Order” first aired on September 13, 1990, so its 20-year run is exceptional for a nighttime drama. “Gunsmoke” on [...]

Here comes the judge

I like courtroom judges, particularly those in fiction because the writers who create them often make them, shall we say, bigger than life. Henry P. Hankins is Jerry Spence’s courtroom judge in Half-Moon and Empty Stars. Hankins is a little man with glasses and thinning hair. He’s been the Fetterman County District Court judge for [...]

“Half-Moon and Empty Stars” one more time

Gerry Spence is a master at describing a setting, in putting his reader right into the scene. Here’s how he opens chapter 12 of his novel Half-Moon and Empty Stars: It was in February of 1970 that Judge Henry P. Hankins had overruled Harold Yancey’s motion for summary judgement. Then the tops of old weeds [...]

Gerry Spence becomes a novelist

I suppose it had to come. Wyoming lawyer Gerry Spence wrote a stack of nonfiction books about major legal issues and cases that he has tried, even a book that he calls the definitive study of the O.J. Simpson case. Some of these volumes are superb reads because Spence is a fine storyteller. He knows [...]

Nonfiction is Gerry Spence’s long suit

Lawyers John Grisham and Scott Turow write terrific legal thrillers that sell books by the truckload – great tales, and Turow’s are particularly well written. In contrast, lawyer Gerry Spence writes great nonfiction. He’s a masterful storyteller, particularly when the subject is a case in which he was the lead lawyer. He’s witty, passionate, clever, [...]