“This is an absolutely first class read, both in terms of style and content. Like so much great fiction this book builds on a great deal of personal experience and a wide local knowledge. Based on truth may not be an accurate enough descriptive, but based on true-life certainly is. The first...”see full review » see other reviews »
“This is an absolutely first class read, both in terms of style and content. Like so much great fiction this book builds on a great deal of personal experience and a wide local knowledge. Based on truth may not be an accurate enough descriptive, but based on true-life certainly is. The first person view only increased my sense of connection with the characters. I am not like the main Paul Forté at all, but for the time it took me to read this book I thought I really could be. He is an easily recognisable character, the jovial success that is so often both popular and the subject of seething jealousies.
This is not so much a book about a small fish that is getting fried, as about a dirty struggle for dominance in a world of variably moral and immoral egos. We smell the fishy stink of politics and its connections with the law. The main character and defendant is an intelligent and quick witted character, the sort of success in life that most can only aspire to equal. We see that even the successful and socially popular have their enemies. These malignant characters seeking revenge for some unknown family slight, or some perceived wrong. The fish could have been from any city in North America, but the fact that these characters are painted into an apparently accurate backdrop of the great city of Boston greatly adds to the interest.
I really felt drawn onto the streets, into the restaurants, law courts, into the backrooms of Massachusetts. I am certain there is a paralleled real life legal history behind much of Morin's invention, helping to make the plot so convincing. However, I have not the least idea as to what bits of the tapestry are or were real, which bits of legalise are case-law and which bits exotic invention, but Morin made every location, every character and every event as believable as my dinner. Then there is the golf! The sport, the life-style, bores my socks off, but whilst reading this book I loved the game and the intricacies of its exacting codes of behaviour; the writing is that good.
That Morin's first book wasn't picked up by one of the majors is just one more humongous nail in the coffin of traditional publishing. I am of course writing against this day's background of exploding independent publishing, and the majors continuing and self-inflicted implosion. (May 2012).”
“ The small fish in question, Paul Forte, is a quick-witted master of the funny line. He is also, like the author, a lawyer. Recently divorced, and still grieving over the sudden death of his parents, his life takes an unexpectedly sinister turn when he finds himself facing criminal charges over a few (okay, more than a few) games of golf with friends who happen to be lobbyists. Forte loves golf, it’s his passion, but it’s about to bring him down because prosecutor Bernard Kilroy has the Attorney General post in his sights and intends to use Forte’s trial as his vehicle to gaining the position.
Running through the storyline as a secondary thread is Forte's attempt to love again, but this brings still more difficulties into his already overcomplicated life.
As the book progresses, we find out that Forte has been deliberately targeted and why, all of which adds to the complexity of the tale.
The first few pages didn’t hook me as much as the rest of the novel. For me, Morin overloads the opening with too much legal jargon and political scene setting. Fortunately, he soon moves into the heart of the story, which is a great read.
The characters are well drawn and credible. Paul Forte, the narrator of the story, is inherently likeable, so much so that I was rooting for him to find a way out of his legal troubles, get the girl and live happily ever after. Did he? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
“(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)
To review Pete Morin's Diary of a Small Fish is to contemplate a subject that I occasionally get asked about as a prolific reviewer; because although my rule to myself is to read at least half of a book before feeling qualified enough to give a general opinion of it, a lot of the shorter write-ups of only so-so titles here are books that I barely got past the halfway point of, calling into ethical question whether that makes a person capable of rendering a legitimate opinion. In this case, for example, the book starts out with a troubling premise that makes it naturally hard to slog forward: the tale of a golf-obsessed Tea-Partyish state representative, who faces minor ethics charges when a lobbyist he often hits the links with gets indicted for some much bigger crimes, Morin is clearly going for a light comedy about the surrealism of small-time politics (think Carl Hiaasen, for example), and how wrong it is for the government to be squeezing our "one percenter" hero on what amounts to merely some free golf, because they want to "flip" him and help further entrap the much more guilty lobbyist; but in the "Occupy" times we live in, that's kind of like trying to write a sympathetic novel about a mid-level Nazi who merely kept count of all the gold teeth yanked from dead Jews' bodies after their gassing, not the guy who actually gassed or yanked, so why is he sitting in a glass cube in Nuremberg and being treated so harshly?
But still, maybe Small Fish would turn out to be a redemptive story when all is said and done, and our protagonist would by the end understand what kind of sneaky, petty, subsumed-guilt Bush-loving Michael-Scott frat-boy douchebag he actually is; but alas, the more that I kept reading, the more I realized that this entire novel is meant to be read in a straightforward fashion, and that our expected hero is actually the villain of the larger story called society, without the author I think even being fully conscious of it. "Yes, but maybe this transformation does take place at the very end of the tale," I hear you arguing, which is what always makes it a tricky issue when writing a review of a book you haven't finished; but in a case like this, you simply have to ask yourself, if the author hasn't shown even a taste by the halfway point that he is going somewhere new or unexpected with an unagreeable storyline, is he even going to have any readers left by the end when he actually does flip the plot? A sometimes ugly book that often wallows in casual stereotyping and the mocking of others for its small-moment humor, and loaded with the kinds of mistakes that almost every attorney who tries fiction seems to be guilty of (Dear Every Lawyer In History Who's Ever Written A Novel: Full transcripts of deposition hearings do not make for compelling fiction, no matter how many f-cking times you do it -- Sincerely, Jason Pettus), Morin certainly has his heart in the right place when wanting to do a Catch-22 style comedy about the foibles of legal bureaucracy; it's just too bad he picked such a naturally repellant subject in which to base his tale.
Out of 10: 6.6”