Book blog

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

“Open your eyes!” said Trout bitterly. “Do I look like a dancer, a singer, a man of joy?” He was wearing his tuxedo now. It was a size too large for him. He had lost much weight since high school. His pickets were crammed with mothballs. They bulged like saddlebags.

At the darkened bar of a Holiday Inn in Midland City, also known as the “asshole of the Universe”, sits Dwayne Hoover. He’s completely insane but is trying his best to hide it. Next to him sits Kilgore Trout, the intrepid hero of this Vonnegut tale who will push Hoover over the edge. And near them, wearing sunglasses with trifocal mirrored lenses that he hopes will disguise him from the world, is both men’s creator – Kurt Vonnegut himself.

The fourth wall has crumbled many times before and after Vonnegut’s ‘Breakfast of Champions’ was published, but never in quite such a manner. For one, Vonnegut is quite nervous to meet Trout in person for the first time because he was the one human he had created that had sufficient imagination to guess that perhaps he was a character created by someone else. There was no mind-numbing existential question. The author sought the character out because let’s face it, he wants to know what happens as much as the rest of us.

Secondly, even though novel-Vonnegut knows exactly what’s going to happen, in this tale he’s hardly omnipotent. He may have put things in motion, but he’s not sure exactly what is in store for his characters – which is how he ends up with a broken pair of glasses and a broken toe. He’s a rather apologetic god, vanishing into the void when things get too complicated, avoiding eye contact by creating new characters to interact with anyone noticing him, and continuously popping anxiety pills.

On the anniversary of Vonnegut’s death, there is no better way to celebrate his life than to read this book; his own tribute to his recurring failed sci-fi author character Kilgore Trout, who appears without fail in every one of his books.

In ‘Breakfast of Champions’, Vonnegut puts him through hell as soon as he finishes dusting off his mothball suit to go to a literary festival in the mid-West.

After Mr Rosewater (another beloved character, see ‘God Bless you Mr Rosewater’ for more) writes to him to say that he is a brilliant author, Trout immediately assumes he’s a teenager rather than a multi-millionaire businessman who just happens to love his books enough to own a private collection.

But when his invitation to go to the literary festival arrives, Trout decides to make a political statement. Searching for his published work (which only appeared published in porno magazines) he hits the road, hitchhiking along the way with some very odd truck drivers, waking up in a ditch after being mugged and having to walk through a polluted river.

“You are pooped and demoralised,” read Dwayne. “Why wouldn’t you be? Of course it is exhausting, having to reason all the time in a universe which wasn’t meant to be reasonable.”

He could have never imagined (though Vonnegut did) that one of his stories would be read by a madman and believed immediately. Trout’s story about the Creator’s letter to its only creation, explaining that everyone else in the world is a robot and that it’s only him that is real was exactly what Hoover needed to explain his current predicament.

Master of the hyperbole, Vonnegut will always leave the reader guessing. And that’s just how we like it.

Image: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/201676889532685141/

 

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Exclusive: Jeremy Clarkson lines up Quinn Emanuel to take on BBC

BBC Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson has instructed Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to represent him in any potential commercial dispute against the BBC for breach of contract.

Olswang senior partner Mark Devereux is representing Clarkson during the BBC’s ongoing official disciplinary investigation, which was launched after the presenter allegedly punched Top Gear producer Tymon after filming on location in Newcastle two weeks ago (16 March 2015).

Clarkson turned to Quinn Emanuel to examine the case for a commercial claim of breach of contract. Director-general Tony Hall confirmed today that the BBC would not be renewing Clarkson’s contract when it runs out, reportedly at the end of this month.

It is understood that the presenter may have opted to change adviser because of a potential conflict of interest at Olswang. In recent years the firm has represented the BBC on several commercial deals including BBC Worldwide’s long-term creative partnership with AMC Networks in 2014, a sale and licencing deal for BBC Magazines in 2011 and the sale of travel publisher Lonely Planet in 2013.

Olswang is also a provider for the private practice element for the BBC’s training contract.

Quinn Emanuel declined to comment.

This article was first published on TheLawyer.com. Please see the original link here.

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Feature: Where are all the women law firm leaders?

Just eight women hold senior management roles in the UK’s top 50 firms despite females dominating the profession at entry level. How can that gulf be closed and what career steps will make the top more reachable? We asked today’s leaders.

Gender in law firms is a hot topic, and with a growing number of firms publishing diversity targets, it is starting to feel like the UK’s leading law firms are scrambling to hit the magic 30 per cent female partner ratio. Which means senior law firm management will soon be full of female lawyers, right?
Unlikely.
Despite a growing number of firms pledging to improve their gender diversity credentials, the most recent data from The Lawyer’s UK 200 shows that just 19 per cent of the total partnership roles in the top 20 firms are held by women.
This stands in stark contrast to the fact that for the past 20 years the majority (60 per cent) of new entrants into the UK legal profession were women.

Read the full feature here.

This article was first published in The Lawyer magazine. Please see the original link here.

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Exclusive: Olswang Europe offices left out in the cold on three-way merger

Olswang’s continental European offices have been warned they will not be automatically included in the firm’s three-way merger with CMS and Nabarro, The Lawyer understands.

The offices in Brussels, Madrid, Munich and Paris have been told they must negotiate the integration of their teams with CMS’s local offices or look for alternative homes.

An ex-Olswang partner told The Lawyer that it was likely that the single-partner offices would be absorbed by CMS in Europe, while the larger teams “may have more trouble” with their negotiations.

Olswang currently has six offices outside of the UK, four of which are in Europe, and a total of 14 partners across its network.

Olswang’s Paris office led by Guillaume Kessler has seven partners, while Munich has five partners and Madrid and Brussels have a sole partner each, Blanca Escribano and Dirk Van Liedekerke.

Should they decide against attempting to integrate with CMS’s local offices, sources point to real estate costs being the largest problem for European partners.

CMS’s presence in Europe somewhat dwarfs Olswang’s, with 28 offices in total. However the overlap between the two firms is total, as CMS has offices in eight cities in Germany including Munich, two offices in Belgium (Antwerp and Brussels), three offices in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona and Seville) and an office in Paris.

It is understood that Olswang’s Munich partnership is weighing up its options on whether to continue ahead with the merger or integrate with a different international firm.

It is not clear whether the Asia offices (Hong Kong and Singapore) are subject to the same conditions as their European counterparts.

Olswang CEO Paul Stevens has been approached to comment.

A spokesperson said: “We can confirm that three-way discussions are actively on-going between Olswang’s UK LLP, the CMS UK LLP and its European affiliate partnerships, and we are working hard to achieve an outcome that is satisfactory to all parties.”

CMS, Nabarro and Olswang partners voted through the firms’ three-way merger last month, which is expected to complete next May.

The new firm will be called CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang, but will trade as CMS. Under the terms of the merger, Nabarro and Olswang will join the CMS UK partnership and move into its City premises in Cannon Place.

After the merger announcement, CMS Cameron McKenna, Nabarro and Olswang told their business services support teams that all roles are up for grabs at the merged firm, putting around 850 UK-based non fee-earning roles into consultation.

This article was originally published on The Lawyer. Please see original link here: https://www.thelawyer.com/exclusive-olswang-europe-offices-left-cold-three-way-merger/

 

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Book blog

1000 before 30 #51: Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk

Phwoar.

When I picked this up I didn’t expect a rush.

[Slight spoiler alert]

A man is holding a loaded gun, cocked and ready to blow inside his own mouth at the top of a high rise building block.

How does he get there? Well it all starts with the unnamed protagonist’s doctor claiming that insomnia isn’t such a serious thing.
I mean, so what if the only way you can sleep is to take airplanes to random destinations because the altitude helps your brain to relax?

So the man decides to attend several support groups for the terminally ill. It looks like he’s found his new high, but then this woman keeps on appearing in all of the sessions too. She was a fraud, just like him, and frankly was harshing his buzz. When she attended the testicular cancer support group, he decided to confront her. And that’s how he meets Marla.

But the main protagonist isn’t totally alone. In fact, he has a best friend, ex projectionist and overall sociopath Tyler Durden, who is better than him in any way. With him comes fight club, a ‘fuck you’ response to everything that society has constructed – a way to feel something real in a world filled with ties, suits and lies.

But as more people become obsessed with fight club (and its rules) things spiral out of control. Will he be able to stop Tyler?

The book asks the question – should you be afraid of yourself – In an internal Frankenstein-like debate.

My favourite bit of the whole book has to be when the men decide to use Marla’s mother’s body fat – which she has allegedly been sucking out to save for other parts of her body – to make soap that they plan to sell. Marla comes into the apartment to see what the men had done and starts screaming about them ‘making her mother into soap’. And that’s not even close to the most absurd thing in the book.

Let’s just say this is one of those times that even though the film was excellent, the book was something marvellous. I understand the hype, I understand the impact.

This book is part of my 1000 before 30 book challenge. Read more about it by scrolling all over the site! Recommendations are always welcome.

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Book blog

Six books I have to read right now.

Sometimes you walk past a shelf and realise that you just have to have a certain book.  These are the contenders that have been added to my 1000 before 30 list before August is up! Also worth a mention that I read three of The Walking Dead series over this week, which of course aren’t featured here but deserve a mention.

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Howard Fast’s The Edge of Tomorrow was a find at the Waterstone’s opposite UCL in Central London. They were selling a vintage, battered copy that needed a home. I am almost all the way through it, so it should appear on the list soon!

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole has been on my wishlist for quite some time, as an amusing classic I could never get my hands on when looking for a good read.

Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls is one that I’m aware I should have read a long time ago – but am finally going for here.

Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Does my wanting to read this need any explanation whatsoever?

Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev was an impulse buy. I have read quite a bit from Dostoievsky, Tolstoy and even Checkhov, but nothing by Turgenev. Hopefully this will prove to be an interesting expansion on my knowledge of Russian literature.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was recommended by a colleague as one of the best things she has read recently – I couldn’t resist the rave reviews!

On that note, as I expand my bookshelves and decrease the amount of money in my wallet through this 1000 before 30 process, I am looking for good book recommendations to add to the future list. If you have any that you think I should read, give me a shout!

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1000 before 30 #25: The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton

‘The Luminaries’ is kind of like when a very drunk person at a pub decides to tell you a very detailed story, only to start at the middle, get confused, tell you a lot of shit you didn’t want to know and is entirely irrelevant, and then condense the interesting ending into three paragraphs.

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1000 books before 30 #22: Life of Pi – Yann Martel

There are very few books that live up to their hype. ‘Life of Pi’ is one of them. Essentially its main character Pi (short for Piscine) is in such a desperate castaway situation that, if swapping tales with Robinson Crusoe, the latter would probably hang his head and admit that life on his island wasn’t so bad.

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1000 before 30 #21: The Buddha in the attic – Julie Otsuka

This is the story of hundreds women who leave their native Japan to meet their new husbands in America. The only thing they know is what they look like, thanks to grainy portraits they were sent beforehand. They all speak as one narrative, with voices intertwining and telling tales of hope, desperation, disappointment and love found in their new world.

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