Is “Legal Thriller” an Oxymoron?

Not according to Scott Turow who has been making a living since the late 1980’s penning some of the finest legal novels around. The Aspen Times has this well-wrought piece on Mr. Turow and his background, in honor of his appearance before the Aspen Writer’s Guild last night.

Mr. Turow graduated from Harvard Law in the late 1970’s and worked as an assistant U.S. attorney and then as defense counsel specializing in defending death row convicts. He believes that crime and the criminal justice system are full of interest and drama. The subject certainly has provided him with plenty of material for his bestselling novels.

But it appears that Mr. Turow has been moving away from the sensational and more toward the personal with his latest endeavor, the sequel to Limitations. Seems hardly a surprise that the subject that the 60-year-old Turow would choose to explore is a man of similar years looking back on his life:

“I’m writing about a substantially different person,” he said. “Rusty is 60, about to ascend to the state Supreme Court, the crowning achievement of his career. He can feel the wings of time, and he isn’t quite satisfied with his life, or even if he has had good fortune.”

Could this be autobiographical? I cannot imagine how Mr. Turow could look back on his life with other than a sense of satisfaction. But then, perhaps life may once again be imitating art, as evidenced by the closing quote in the article:

“It’s what E.M. Forster said: Life goes on, novels don’t. So there’s something artificial about every novel. Any novel is going to be a bit unsatisfying in its conclusion.”

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