Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Book: MISDEMEANOR MAN by Dylan Schaffer

If it's Friday, you know the routine. Don't forget to check in later and see what other forgotten books other bloggers are talking about today over at Patti Abbott's blog, PATTINASE .

MISDEMEANOR MAN is the hilarious debut of a guy who really should have gone on to have a great writing career. Instead, after a few books, he began writing movies and well, there you have it. Seduced by the bright lights of Hollywood. Ha!

I found the arc of MM in the back room of a book store I was working in, years ago. Made the mistake of reading the first page, howled with laughter and then had trouble putting the book down to deal with customers. Couldn't wait to get home that night to read the rest of Dylan's book.

All I'm going to do is quote a paragraph or two from MM and if you don't get the humor, well, then the book's not for you and that's a shame.

Funny thing is, the first couple of pages are done in first person (which I normally abominate), but the rest of the book returns to the more normal first person past tense narration. Thank goodness.

A little intro first: Gordon Seegerman is a reluctant public defender by day, and the wildly enthusiastic lead singer in a Barry Manilow cover band by night. 


November 14, 2002. Duke Abramowitz - misdemeanor supervisor, boss-in-theory - stands in my office doorway as I saunter into work at eleven on a Friday morning. I squeeze past him. He tosses a thin file, hitting me, not unpainfully, on the back of my head. Admittedly there is a small bald spot back there, a target of sorts, but still.

"Good morning, Duke," I say, not looking  (or needing to look) around to see the expression of disgust etched into his face. He is tall and exceptionally skinny and has a cross manner. He has a comb-over and a large, sickeningly three-dimensional mauve mole on the tip of his aquiline nose. After extensive observation, and thanks to my familiarity with reports in the National Enquirer, I've concluded the apparent mole is, in fact, a space alien that controls Duke's body.

"Blow me." He remains, staring at me. I pick up the file and pitch it back.

"Come on, Duke, I'm full up," I say....

....."You still getting a paycheck?" The file lands on my desk.

"Have I been dreaming, or did we have a discussion about this?"

He begins to croon, to the tune of the Barry Manilow hit, "I Write the Songs" : "You write the briefs that make the judges laugh, you don't take the case I'll cut your salary in half."

The case turns out to be another winner for Gordon: Harold Dunn - arrested the previous evening. Penal Code Section 314, lewd exposure in public. Little does Gordon know that murder is only a hop, skip and a jump away.

A public defender's work is never done.


  1. I'm laughing while reading the intro: "the wildly enthusiastic singer in a Barry Manilow cover band".

    This is for me! Thanks for the tip.

  2. Debbie: I know! I began laughing on the first page and hardly stopped all the way through. It's such a wonderfully funny AND touching book. You will probably fall in love with Gordie. I did. :)

  3. (humming the tune 'Copacabana' as I type ...)now this a strange combination of ideas for a book, but hey, I suppose it could have been a lot weirder - he could have been an enthusiastic follower of the interpretive mime of Marcel Mmaceau instead! This sounds really funny - cheers Yvette - no idea what it will be like trying to track this down in the UK but I shall try!

  4. It is a very funny book, Sergio. I really wish Dylan had kept writing about Gordon. He did do a second book which is almost as good. But the first book is the real keeper.


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