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Opening with a fight between an attorney named Kek and his bellicose girlfriend, this novel drags the reader through Kek's fantasies of naked lesbians wrestling in his office, his demented assessment of American icon Ben Franklin ("A pot-bellied love hound"), and a passage informing the reader that Rodin's most famous statue, The Thinker, remained unsold for many years under its original name: The Shitter. This novel also introduces us to Kek's injury-faking clients, including Chett Pflat (a drunken school bus driver) and Langhorn Dupell (whose sense of honesty makes him refuse to promise to tell the truth on the witness stand.) You'll meet Kek's publisher ("Get out!"); his writing instructor ("Get out! Hurry!"); Sammy Delveccio, the opera-singing Mafia don; and ' S! ' the all-suffering coffee-house poet. Be there as Kek's shallow life comes crashing around him, and he has an epiphany - one that certainly describes this novel:
"Nothing makes sense!"
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Vladimir Kek is a faceless man in a nameless city. This novel is his latest -- and most successful -- effort in his quest to remain a deservedly obscure writer.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It's 8:15 and I'm feeling a little better. I'm in my office now. I've had my morning coffee (3 cups), so I'm not as tired as I was, and I'm still gloating over my answer to the whole happiness question.
So, let me tell you what I'm doing. Here's what I'm doing: I'm sitting back in my big leather chair with my feet on my desk looking out my window. The sun is bright, the sky is blue, it's going to be a beautiful day.
Let met tell you what I'm thinking. Here's what I'm thinking: I'm thinking of my secretary, naked. She's a tiny little thing. Cute as a button. Mean as a junk yard dog. Her name is Susan. Behind her back, I call her Xena, the Warrior Princes! Her boyfriend is as big as a tank. He has tattoos. Xena rules him with an iron fist. I've heard she has tattoos, too.
I quickly tire of thinking of Susan naked, so I start thinking of her having a lesbian interlude with another secretary, also naked. That doesn't last long, either. Within seconds, my whole office is filled with lesbian secretaries, all naked, going at it.
Women have told me they wonder what goes on inside men's minds. Mostly wrestling matches between naked lesbians. If you're a woman and that upsets you, I apologize. If you're too angry with me and other men to accept my apology, your path is clear: Become a lesbian!
"Vlad," Susan announces over the speakerphone, startling me. "Lyle Polasky is calling for you."
"Yeah, so, I grunt impatiently.
"Oh, never mind," Susan snaps back in her well-worn why-do-I-even-bother tone of voice.
Lyle Polasky is one of my clients. He has a nickname for me. Lyle calls me the Wizard of Law. "You're like the Wizard of Oz," he explained to me one time when I was standing by Susan's desk and picked up the phone by accident. "Nobody ever gets to talk to you. You have Susan take all your calls and tell people you're not in. You hide behind her like the Wizard of Oz hid behind his curtain."
Boy does Lyle have my number. I take maybe one in ten client calls. Here's why: I don't like talking to clients. Clients are a pain in the butt. They're always asking questions. "When is my case going to trial?" "How much money am I going to get?" "If I run the Boston Marathon, will it ruin my bad-knee case?"
Every lawyer I know says the same thing about clients: If it wasn't for clients, the practice of law would be a lot of fun!
"Vlad?" It's Susan again, talking over the speakerphone. "Mr. Pflat is here." Chet Pflat is the first client I have to meet with today. Chet is a drunk. He drives a school bus for a local Catholic elementary school. Or he did before the accident. Chet was driving drunk one day when he plowed his bus into the back of a parked semi. What a mess! Saddle shoes and school books flying everywhere.
Chet hired me to sue to the Diocese on his behalf. I argued to the jury that the Church was negligent for hiring a known inebriate to drive a bus. Employing a drunk driver puts him in great danger, I said. The jury bought it. They must've been drunk!
So now it's payday and Chet is in my office to pick up his check. It's the first time I've seen Chet sober. I'm reviewing all the expenses in the case and explaining to Chet how he has to pay these expenses in addition to my fee. I can tell he's getting upset over all the money being deducted from his pay-out.
"Damnit, Vlad!" Chet jumps to his feet and screams at me. "You're fucking me without a paddle!"
That's when I notice something about Chet that I hadn't seen before: Chet is not only a drunk, but a moron! His lights are on, but he's a few cards shy of a full deck. (If I had known during the trial that Chet was intellectually-challenged, I think I could have persuaded the jury to award even more money to him than they did.)
A few minutes later, Chet storms out of my office with $56,000 and a bad attitude. He won't get far; next door to my office is an off-track betting parlor, with a bar.
The second client I have to meet with is Velma Krimpet. Velma wants me to sue a well- known snack food company for stealing her name and using it on one of the company's products. Velma believes that she is entitled to three cents for every package of Krimpets sold in the United States since June 13, 1956, the date of her auspicious birth.
Velma doesn't work for a living, and plans never to have to do so. Velma is a slip and fall artist. She's slid through more puddles and stumbled over more obstructions than an army of caneless blind men. And she's collected every time. In her latest accident, Velma slipped in a puddle of urine in a grocery store. The store's manager and employees swear they have no idea where the puddle came from. I think I can figure it out.
Velma's Krimpet ploy is a whole new direction for her. Apparently, she's growing bored with simple negligence cases and wants to branch out to product liability. It's a stupid case, but I have to take it to keep Velma happy. She's one of the bread-and-butter clients my firm depends on for a steady stream of income. If I could find a few more like Velma, I'd have enough money to buy a boat.
"Velma, I'll file the complaint tomorrow!" I declare, my voice and body rising together in a spasm of moral outrage. "Those bastards at TastyKake won't get away with this!"
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