THE LETTER OF THE LAW by Katherine A. Davis Roome


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I guess one keeps a journal for the same reason that one talks, sings, recites, tapes his voice, writes a letter, a book, whatever. To communicate? Hardly ever does one have that peculiar impossible goal in mind once one commences."" That's how a law student named Ixias Smith begins this journal of her third-year traumas--so it's not really surprising that what lies ahead is a painfully precious and dull exercise in self-indulgence. Ixias' major preoccupation is the writing competition for the Law Review, and she desperately decides to seduce a divorced law prof with hopes that he'll help her write it. This she does, though ""I could not have been less sexually interested had I remained in the kitchen to wash the floor."" But there's not a jot of believability in Ixias' pseudo-comic scheme, since she also smugly tells us about her cute, rebellious, non-competitive behavior while interviewing with law firms. In any case, there's vicious sabotage going among the Law Review competitors--one of the saboteurs may be Ixias' sometime lover Crackers--and Ixias is also weighed down by phone chats with her doting parents and the ultimate collapse of her seduction scheme: ""Sometimes depression descends on me like an enveloping, sickly sweet blanket of self-pity. But now it is like a spear in my stomach. . . . ""Then everything falls apart when Ixias' old boyfriend appears and eventually kills himself. Weak satire (by comparison, The Paper Chase suddenly seems worthy of Evelyn Waugh) plus dreadful soap opera--all narrated by a thoroughly unlikable heroine who also takes time out to pontificate on television and the Sixties. ""I'm tired of my voice. I'm tired of listening to myself think. Reader, it occurs to me that I'm tired of you."" Likewise, Ixias--most definitely likewise.

Pub Date: Aug. 15th, 1979
Publisher: Random House