All three of Las Vegas’s alternative weeklies like my book. For the most part.
If I had to put grades on the reviews, I’d say that Las Vegas Weekly gave me an A, CityLife gave me a B+, and Vegas Seven gave me a B.
Here are the highlights:
CityLife: "It's an oddly addicting read."
Las Vegas Weekly: “Lax has a purpose—he is using Vegas to research a book on the art of deceit—and what he seems to find is that this city may actually be more honest than most because it can be so crass and harsh. Fool Me Once marks real growth for Lax..."*
Seven: "He has a good sense of humor, and no trouble putting together readable sentences. For those reasons, Fool Me Once will most likely resonate with Vegas locals more than anybody else. Lax, a Chicago transplant, seemed right at home before he even unpacked his suitcase."
*Also from the LVW Review: “Before you claim I’m sucking up to Lax because he is a Weekly colleague, I urge you to revisit the lambasting I gave Weekly writer John Curtas’ ‘guidebook’ in November.”
The blogosphere likes my book, for the most part.
Here are the highlights of some recent blog reviews:
"Part memoir, part random facts—it brought to mind Freakonomics (and not just because Lax mentions the book), but was a much more enjoyable read. All the ingredients for a quick fiction read: the love story, the humor, the fun ensemble cast - it had a relatable, fun tone, not often found in memoirs."
"I thought Rick was an endearing memoirist. He seemed suave at times, but then he would act completely naïve in other situations, which made me think he would probably be pretty fun to hang out with."
“Rick is a great writer. His chapters read like Tucker Max stories, except Rick is self-deprecating and relatable: a lawyer you’d want to grab a beer with and hear the stories from personally. He describes immersing himself in the fantasies of Las Vegas totally sans ego, writing from the perspective of a guy who seems as awestruck by Vegas...”
From an overall negative review by Jseliger/TheStory’sStory:
“The chapters are vignettes with recurring themes: The hot roommate Oxana appears; a non-relationship with a girl named Zella culminates in a three-night hookup between her other shags, much like that one weekend you had in college; being a magician appears, disappears, and reappears; quasi life lessons come from a hooker named Kiana. The major weakness of Fool Me Once is its lack of a main narrative thread, since one section has little to do with another. This doesn’t make individual moments weaker, but one does start to wonder whether the book is going in any particular direction. Although I don’t wish to spoil the end, the answer is probably obvious. Still, parts are clever and the book is pretty funny: ‘My fellow law school graduates went off to Europe to ‘find themselves’…I’m pretty sure this is code for ‘do drugs.’”
...and it's positive. Comes from Kirkus, and it goes a little something like this...
"Fear and loather is in short supply, but there are plenty of cons and cheap hustles in this lively memoir of time spent on the seamier edge of Casinoland.
Hunter Thompson it ain’t, and that’s refreshing for a book about Las Vegas—especially with Lax, who arrives in the capital of human frailties “at the speed limit, in my mom’s SUV, carrying a dozen dress shirts, a dozen ties, a couple boxes of kitchen supplies and toiletries, a briefcase full of magic tricks, my laptop, and my mom.”
Yet, like Thompson, Lax throws light on a place that seems all too familiar. A sometime lawyer and self-taught magician with a taste for what Criss Angel calls “Mindfreaks,” the author is fascinated by the elaborate ways humans have developed to part other humans from their money. There is the improbably torso augmentation of his roommate, for instance, which nets bigger tips, and the card-counting, and the Mexican turnover (“ a move in which you use one card to turn over a second and switch the two in the process”).
It will come as no surprise to most readers that everyone is on the make in Las Vegas, and the scholarly detachment with which Lax records it merely emphasizes the ordinariness of desperation—as when he shares an episode involving a criminal with his long-suffering mom, the Greek chorus of the tale, only to be chided for his choice of companions, to which Lax responds, “He didn’t’ KILL anybody. He just shot some people.”
Mortal peril, thankfully, doesn’t come often in these pages, which are instead populated with characters such as a 450-pound male Cher impersonator and a card junkie who tears himself away from the table long enough to offer Lax tips on being a manly man: “Stop drinking white wine for starters.”
An entertaining field guide to vice, but also one with a point—if you’re headed anywhere near the Strip, watch your wallet."
This is so frustrating! Kirkus just posted a review of Fool Me Once, but I can't read it because I don't have a Kirkus account. All I can read is the first two lines, which say... "Fear and loathing is in short supply, but there are plenty of cons and cheap hustles in this lively memoir of time spent on the seamier edge of Casinoland. Hunter Thompson it ain’t, and that’s refreshing for a book about..." And that's all I can read. :/
This week I reviewed Ben Mezrich's book Accidental Billionaires for Las Vegas Weekly. You can read the whole review HERE, and the first few paragraphs here:
If you watched The Today Show this morning, you probably noticed weird: I wasn’t on it. I can only assume that not inviting me on to discuss LAWYER BOY was some sort of sick practical joke on the part of The Today Show producers, but to be honest, I didn’t find it very funny.
But speaking of funny, attorney/humorist Kevin Underhill wrote up a review of Lawyer Boy on his blog http://LoweringTheBar.net. Here’s part of it.
“Rick Lax sent me a pre-publication copy of his new book, "Lawyer Boy," which was released today (July 8). After reading it, I first considered hunting him down in order to eliminate further competition in the legal-humor department, but decided instead to post a review of the book.
Hunting people down can be really tiring (unless they are elderly, which this guy is not), and it's expensive to have someone else do it.
This is a very funny book, and that starts with its premise, which is pretty much summarized in the book's first sentence: "I always wanted to be a magician, but my father, a tax lawyer, never considered magic a 'viable career path.'" Neither was political science, which Lax had studied in college. So, really, what other option is there in that situation but law school?
I also majored in "political science" -- which, Lax notes, really doesn't exist -- with a focus on the Soviet Union, which now definitely doesn't exist. My other major was in ancient history, which by definition is the study of things that no longer exist. So, while I was never a magician, my options other than law school were also pretty illusory. Why this kind of background might lead people to legal-humor writing is beyond the scope of this piece, which after all is supposed to be a goddamn book review.
"Lawyer Boy" is, more or less, a memoir of Lax's first year in law school at DePaul University in Chicago. It's a lot more entertaining than that might sound, though, even if you are not a lawyer, because the writing is clear and funny, frequently laugh-out-loud funny. No, not eyebrow-lift or even appreciative-nod funny, but the laugh-out-loud kind.”
You can read the rest on his blog, http://loweringthebar.net.
This is the first official Lawyer Boy review. Hopefully it will set the tone for the rest. Hmm…maybe I shouldn't put the cart before the horse….let me try again: hopefully there will be other reviews, and hopefully they will be similar.
First-time author Lax delivers an entertaining and sometimes zany look at the first year of law school. Although he dreams of being a professional magician, Lax realizes after college that being a lawyer—like his father and most of his relatives (he provides a family tree showing the remarkable number of lawyers who are relatives)—is inevitable. After being accepted into the DePaul School of Law in Chicago, where passenger trains "screamed past the classroom every ten minutes," he finds that the world of torts and criminal law is both like and unlike everything he had imagined. The workload is still brutal—as a professor tells him, "For the next year, the American legal system will be your girlfriend." But Lax's discoveries of what he didn't expect offer fascinating up-to-date insights such as the inevitability of the depression he develops (lawyers "are about four times more likely to experience clinical depression than the general population") and the hard fact that "[l]aw schools don't fail students like they used to. They need the tuition dollars to stay competitive."
The first LAWYER BOY review comes out on Monday. From Publishers Weekly.
I asked my editor how I’m supposed to prepare for this, and he said that he’d put a horse head in the bed of the PW reviewer assigned to the book.
But what I was really asking was how I’m supposed to prepare myself, emotionally, for this. I mean, when you get a bad review on your memoir, it’s like getting a bad review on your life.