How can you represent those people? Part Three

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
June 25, 2014

To read Part One, click here.
To read Part Two, click here.

37079_10151252598826395_79983112_n

How can I represent those people?

I could easily point to the Constitution and claim that it is necessary to defend individuals charged with a crime in order to maintain a free and just society.  The adage that it is better that nine guilty people go free than it is for a single innocent person be convicted is reason enough.  And though this is a foundational reason, for me it’s more than that.

I would start by answering the question with a question:  Who are those people?

The way I see it, people are people.  Those people imply that there are some individuals who are not like the person who asks the question and me.  How are those people different than you and I?  What is that separation that should deny them from my representation?  And what is it that makes the questioner feel superior to my clients?

We live in a disposable society.  If something breaks, it is often cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one than it is to fix it.  And unfortunately, I believe, the mentality can make it easy or acceptable to have disposable people.  We, as a nation, are becoming more isolated from each other.  Our disengagement with others reduces empathy towards those that aren’t within our small circle of family and friends.  I’ve met a lot of those people in my practice.  They have families.  They have friends.  They have children.  Only a few are alone or have only a handful of people who are in their immediate circle.  But that doesn’t mean they are any less of a person than me.

We also live in a society fueled by media and entertainment for vengeance.  If we’re struck, we must strike back.  Harder.  It is so ingrained in our society it feels natural.  We don’t question why we were struck (or do so at superficial level that is biased towards defending one striking back – take 9/11 for example).

I cannot deny this emotion.  When we returned from our honeymoon we discovered our apartment broken into and all of our new gifts gone.  I’ve felt the heat for vengeance.  But we mustn’t jump to conclusions.

The first on-campus event I attended in law school was sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild.  They brought in three speakers who had one thing in common:  they had been death row inmates, all released after several years of appeals and the culling of evidence destroying the cases against them.  There, before me, sat a man who was weeks away from state execution, discussing his case, living with the conflicting feelings of being innocent but condemned to execution.  Vengeance doesn’t always lead to justice.  If sought hastily, it can create further injustice.

Life isn’t fair, right.  I disagree with that maxim.  Life is neutral.  It is people that are either fair or not fair.

The police and prosecutor were not fair with Donna Goodwin.  They incarcerated a poor, ailing, mature African American woman for one month.  After gaining a HIPPA release from Goodwin, I spoke with her doctor.  She knew Goodwin’s health and records for years, and would have never referred her to the physician on the prescription pad, mainly because she was from a competitor health care system.  When I demanded video evidence or eye witness testimony of Ms. Goodwin at the pharmacy, two days before the hearing the prosecutor told me they were going to dismiss the case because they had no witnesses.

The nosy-body neighbor was not fair to Eddie Lee.  She and Gerry made a false claim to get Eddie Lee in trouble.  What they didn’t count on was the three witnesses that contradicted her story, and in a bench trial before the judge, Eddie Lee was found not guilty of attempted criminal sexual conduct fourth.  Ms. Nosy-body took it further and filed a disorderly conduct charge against one of the witnesses who testified in the trial, who I then defended, achieving a dismissal of that charge.

The rent-a-cops at the grocery store were not fair to Scott Young.  At their testimony during the preliminary examination, they claimed that they were several car lengths away when Young pulled up and stopped to pick up his mother.  The judge bound the matter over, but in a Motion to Quash, the circuit court judge dismissed the assault with a dangerous weapon felony.

The probation office was not fair to Danny Hugel.  I filed a motion to have Hugel removed from the Sex Offender Registry, based on a 2009 Michigan Court of Appeals decision that ruled that having to register after successfully completing HYTA before October 1, 2004 and not required to do so after October 1, 2004, was cruel and unusual punishment, contrary to the Michigan Constitution.  While awaiting that hearing, the probation officer levied another frivolous probation violation against him.  On a Tuesday, the hearing before the judge to remove him from the Sex Offender Registry was held, and the judge ruled in our favor.  Two days later, with the new alleged crime of failing to comply with the sex offender registry and the probation violation, the charges were dismissed.

It would have been easy for these four individuals to take plea deals, or should I say, for an attorney to guide them into taking pleas.  Life’s not fair, right?

So it’s a Constitutional duty, and a duty to uphold justice and fairness.  But there’s one other element that I have found with most of these clients.  I like them.  I can relate to them.  Those in jail, I don’t mind visiting them prior to our first appearance in court, to get their side of the story that they feel would go unheard but for my visit.  For the four clients above – and others like them I have defended – their situation could have happened just as easily to you or to me.

I tend to root for the underdog, and when someone is charged with a crime, there is no bigger underdog.  Of course, in a number of cases, the issue is not innocence or guilt, but rather damage control.  The act was committed, and a sentence has to be imposed.  In those cases, my goal is to get a fair sentence for the client, instead of having the book thrown at them.

People who are charged with a crime are not necessarily bad people.  Should a single act define who we are?  Think of some of the single acts you may have engaged in that you may not be proud of.  Would you want your life to be defined by that?

This is why I defend people charged with crimes.

735128_10151227670051395_1557565981_n

How can you represent those people? Part Two.

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
June 18, 2014

(If you would like to read Part One, click HERE)

I gave Donna Goodwin(1) a copy of the police report.  It included copies of the prescriptions that she allegedly had filled.  Goodwin explained to me that she lived on a fixed income in Detroit, her doctor’s office within walking distance of her home, and the pharmacy she filled her prescriptions with was on the corner.  She had never heard of the doctor whose name was on the prescription.  Until this charge, she had never been in Clinton Township.  She provided me with the name of her doctor and her office location.  Goodwin also told me that her state id had been stolen from her the summer before.

In February, 2008, I sat for the Michigan Bar Exam.  I had left the City of Detroit to try my hand at running a business, which lasted eighteen months during the recession.  I then clerked for a legendary labor arbitrator whose office was in Detroit, and with his encouragement I decided to go after the license to practice law.  I swore into the Bar in May, 2008.

DSC02079
Swearing in before Judge Richard Caretti in Macomb County Circuit Court.

I took Eddie Lee and his neighbors aside to go over the police report.  He was alleged to have been drunk, left the lawn chair he had been sitting on in Al’s (his neighbor) front yard, then crossed the street to where the alleged victim was sitting on the front porch of a male’s home.  She claimed that Lee started hugging on her and had touched her private parts through her clothing.

Al told me that her story was complete fabrication.  The woman was the neighborhood’s busybody, sticking her nose into every neighbor’s business.  Al was barbequing with Lee sitting in a lawn chair.  Yes, he was drunk.  So drunk that Al said there was no way Lee could have walked across the street without falling face first on the ground.  Ms. Busybody had walked in front of Al’s home, looked at the two men and said, “I smell marijuana.”  Al told her to leave because the only thing smoking was the burgers on the grill.  She walked away in a huff and joined Gerry, a known alcoholic and loud mouth, on his front porch.  About twenty minutes later the police arrived and talked to Ms. Busybody.  They then walked over and arrested Lee.  Two of the neighbors confirmed Al’s version of the story.

The arbitrator was near the end of his career (though I wouldn’t be surprised if  he was still arbitrating labor cases around the country today, six years later).  I needed to consider my options.  The City of Detroit Law Department was hiring in the Labor and Employment Section, where I had clerked during law school.  The interview with two people I had previously worked for was promising, but the open position was for an experienced attorney, not an entry level attorney.  What options were available to me, a forty-six year old male at the start of his law career?

Scott Young told me that he was driving his mother grocery shopping.  He took her to a store where she purchased some groceries.  However, she needed to go to a second store to get the things she needed that the first store did not have.  Young dropped his mother off at the front door, then parked the car and waited for her.  Thirty minutes later, Mom came out of a different door.  No groceries.  No cart.  He drove to meet her.  When she entered the car he asked her what she was doing.  She insisted he drive away.  They drove out of the parking lot, but was immediately pulled over by the police.  According to the police report, Mom had filled a shopping cart with groceries and had pushed them past all points of sale and into the foyer between the two sets of doors leading out.  (This was where the restrooms were located in the store).  Two plain clothed security guards stopped her and began to question her.  She claimed she needed to use the restroom, but they assumed she was trying to walk out with the cart.  She abandoned the cart and left the store.  The two security guards followed and alleged that Young had sped the car in their direction, almost striking them as he stopped to pick Mom up.

A guy I went to law school with, who sponsored me when I swore into the Bar, Kevin Johnson, suggested I look into criminal defense because he said that it seemed right for me.  I shadowed him on his court days, then took the full day session, “A is for Attorney” held on the first day of the Fall 2008 Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan conference.  That launched my criminal defense practice.

DSC02078
Kevin Johnson sponsoring me on my swearing into the Bar.

In 2000, Danny Hugel was seventeen years old.  He plead to a charge of criminal sexual conduct fourth degree for touching the breasts of a thirteen year old girl without her consent.  He was sentenced under Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Training Act (HYTA) which allows a defendant under the age of twenty-one to plead guilty to a charge then be sentenced to a period of probation.  If the defendant successfully complete the term of probation, the case is then dismissed and becomes a non-public record.  However, in 2000, the Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) required someone convicted of a criminal sexual conduct fourth degree to register as a sex offender.  The law contradicted itself.  HYTA dismissed the charge, however SORA proclaimed it to be a conviction of a sex crime.

There’s the back story.  That’s the “how.”  You really want to know “why.”  Why would I dedicate my practice to representing those people?

I’ll answer that by starting with a question.  Who are those people?

Concluded next week.

(1)  All clients name’s have been changed.

How can you represent those people? Part One

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
June 11, 2014

The first time I met Donna Goodwin(1) she was in the Macomb County Jail.  She was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.  The police alleged that Ms. Goodwin brought a prescription of Vicodin to a local drug store.  The pharmacy filled it, then the next day contacted the doctor on the script to determine its legitimacy.  The office manager identified Goodwin as a patient, but that the prescription was not legitimate.  The frail fifty-five year old, African American woman’s first statement to me was that she was glad to see me and asked me why she was there.

The other day I finished reading a collection of essays edited by Anne Smith and Monroe H. Freedman titled How Can You Represent Those People?  The theme of each essay is a response to the cocktail  party question asked of every criminal defense lawyer.  These lawyers have defended the tough cases – murders, rapes, etc.

The first time I met Eddie Lee was at the district court house for our first pre-trial.  Eddie was in his late forties.  The short African American man who lived in a low income housing project, was being charged with attempted criminal sexual conduct fourth degree.  It was alleged by a fifty-plus year old white neighbor that he tried to touch her lady parts.  He said little to me because of his diminished capacity, but the group of six neighbors who came to court in support of him told me plenty.

As I’ve been reading the book, I pondered how I would answer that question for myself.  I’m no Clarence Darrow or any of the seasoned attorneys writing these essays.  My caseload comes predominantly from court appointments out of Macomb County Circuit and a few district courts involving defendants charged with crimes punishable by five years or less.

The first time I met Scott Young, it was at the district court for a preliminary examination.  He was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to retail fraud third – a felony and a misdemeanor.  It was alleged that he was the “getaway” driver for his accomplice who was attempting to shoplift from a grocery store, and that in the getaway attempt he came very near to driving his car into the plain clothes security officers following his accomplice.  An African American man in his forties, Young couldn’t believe the charges as all he was doing was dropping off and picking up his mother from grocery shopping.

Is it for the money?  Hardly.  Michigan ranks 44th in public defense spending.  In 2012, there were only 4,578 criminal cases filed in Macomb County Circuit Court, a slight increase from the previous year, but the trend has been dropping since 2008 when 6,210 criminal cases were filed (Page 28).  Fortunately for me, my law practice is the gravy for our home budget.  Were I to rely on my court-appointed case income alone to survive, I would qualify for food stamps.

The first time I met Danny Hugel was at court on the preliminary examination date.  He was charged with two counts of failing to comply with the sex offender registry by not providing his phone number and email address.  A thirty-something white male, Hugel said there was no way they could charge him with that.  After he had been arrested Hugel went back to the police station and talked to the dispatcher and learned that it was probably a clerical error.  I looked at his history and how he got on the registry fifteen years earlier and thought there was no way he should have been on the sex offender registry to begin with.

If not for the money, which to some would seem the only reason to go into the practice of criminal defense, then what?  These are ‘bad’ people, right?  Why would I, a ‘good’ person, want to defend them?

To be honest, criminal law was not the area of law I thought I’d practice.  Sure, I read comic books and was immersed in the good guy/bad guy myths which might naturally lead me to seeking employment in the prosecutor’s office.  But I was inspired to go to law school at the advanced age of thirty-seven – fifteen years after I graduated college – by two influences; Ralph Nader and because a bulk of the work in the legal profession involved writing.   I was working in a hotel at the time, on the midnight shift as a night auditor, when new management came in and began a practice of overbooking the hotel.  From what I learned on my own, the practice violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Law.  I was ignored, and soon after, I left the life of midnight shift and applied to law school.   I discovered Ralph Nader’s book, No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America.  That was the spark.  I was writing a column for a hockey publication, but having no success with publishing short stories and novels at the time, and learning that being a lawyer required a large amount of time researching and writing motions and briefs, I thought this could be a better way to direct my desire to write.  That was the accelerant.  The fire began.

Also, before entering law school, I realized that Gandhi had been a lawyer prior to his amazing achievements practicing nonviolence in India.  The legal profession as a healing profession felt like a natural place for me.  I then landed a clerk position with the City of Detroit Law Department in the Labor & Employment Section.

Law as a healing profession.  Labor and Employment law.  Mediation.  Labor Arbitration.  Collaborative Divorce.  Exiting law school, I thought this was the path I was on.

Then it took a turn.

(1)  All clients’ identities changed.

To be continued next week.

PART TWO

DSC01012

Proud of my team and family of supporters

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
June 4, 2014

Friday night is soccer night in Detroit. Detroit City FC is hosting the Erie Admirals, which promises to be an exciting night. Erie is the team that eliminated DCFC from the playoffs last season, sparking an instant hatred of that team by supporters.

DSC02946

Sports are interesting, aren’t they? The pitting of two teams, and their supporters, against one another in competition creates a dynamic whereby rivalries and grudges are created. University of Michigan fans and Michigan State University fans hope for in-state bragging rights against the other. The Michigan – Ohio State rivalry is one of the top of all time rivalries in any sport. The professional sports world experiences them, too, such as the Yankees/Red Sox in baseball, Redskins/Cowboys in football, Leafs/Canadiens in hockey, and Celtics/Lakers in basketball. We have soccer rivalries here in the US – Portland Timbers/Seattle Sounders and San Jose Earthquakes/LA Galaxy are a couple that come to mind. But over the pond, where soccer is even more prominent and proximate, there are some heated rivalries, called derbys (pronounced “darbys”). Manchester United and Manchester City. Liverpool and Everton. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Arsenal and Tottenham’s stadiums are only five miles apart. Someone once said that you could change your home, change your job, even change your spouse, but you never change your soccer team.

Last Friday I drove to Cincinnati where my sister and her family live. DCFC battled the Cincinnati Saints, and my sister and two of my nieces attended the game. I sat with the traveling Detroit supporters, while my sister and her kids stayed true to their hometown team. The banter prior and subsequent to the match was fun.

This Friday will be interesting also because the Detroit City FC players will be wearing special jerseys promoting the “You Can Play” project which creates a welcoming and inclusive environment in sports for athletes to be judged on their talent, heart, desire and work ethic and not discriminated against because of sexual orientation. The jerseys will be auctioned following the game with a portion of the proceeds to go to the Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, Michigan, which provides short and long term residential support for runaway, homeless, and at-risk gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender youth.

Parents rejecting sons and daughters for prejudicial reasons is not a new phenomenon. People have a hard time understanding and accepting someone from a different culture or different religion or different race or different sexual preference than their own. Parents believe they instill their values in their children.  So when one’s offspring brings home a date who is not of the same religion or nationality, or skin color, or if their date is of the same sex, the parents feel rejection and failure. If anything, these parents should be proud, for they have taught their child that love and acceptance isn’t limited to people who look like, think like, and/or believe like them.  Love transcends those artificial barriers.

There’s a lot I don’t understand. I don’t understand how people proclaiming to be Christian would deny a couple the right to marry.  Sure, if you believe it is against the narrow tenants of your religion, then deny them a ceremony.  But don’t deny them the right.  I don’t understand how one’s sexual orientation affects his or her potential to be a great family member, employee, athlete, or all around human being.  To paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr. from his legendary speech, we should judge people by the content of their character. I liked the way the Northern Guard Supporters phrased it on their Facebook cover photo, “If they wear our crest, they are family. Regardless of who they love.”

Former Columbus Crew/current Los Angeles Galaxy player Robbie Rogers publicly came out in February, 2013. The NFL’s St. Louis Rams drafted openly gay, Michael Sam, this summer.  Brave men and excellent examples of organizations accepting players for their talents on the field. Add to that DCFC who, on the eve of Motor City Pride weekend in Detroit, embrace the “You Can Play” philosophy and help raise funds to help those shunned by their families.

224529_10150240255600826_88555_n

Sports rivalries encourage hatred for those on the other team. But this is just sports. We can go into the night hating and verbally abusing the Erie Admirals. But in the end, we’re not going to disown our family and friends simply because they root for the opponent. My sister still let me spend the night at their house after DCFC beat their Saints.  Similarly we should not disown our family and friends merely because they are of a different sexual orientation than ourselves.

I hope we trounce those bastards from Erie.  And I hope I win a silent auction, too.

Is my name on the list? Is yours?

“What I’m Thinking About” Wednesday
May 28, 2014

I saw this story come across my Facebook page this morning.  Glenn Greewald told the Times of London that the biggest bombshell of documents to be released by whistle-blower Edward Snowden will be a list of all the American citizens spied on by the NSA.  This could be quite eye-opening.

Glenn Greenwald is a journalist who I likely first heard of on Democracy Now!.  My appreciation and respect for him as a journalist rose after reading his book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, which I highly recommend reading if you haven’t.  It exposes the myth of our country adhering to the concept of the rule of law by exposing how the wealthy and powerful are not touched by the judicial system, however the 99%ers are overly prosecuted and imprisoned.  It’s about how money plays its role – both in keeping the wealthy out of trouble by passing laws that grant immunity and by keeping the poor down and imprisoned.  It starts with the pardoning of the “tough on crime” president Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford and moves forward through time to President Obama’s “we need to look forward, not backward” view towards the human rights abuses and war crimes of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Former senior member of the United States intelligence community, Edward Snowden, reached out to Greenwald, which began the gradual release of the 1.7 million documents Snowden had downloaded.

I’m a bit behind on this story, though Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man is on my to-read shelf (and Greenwald’s new book is on my wish list).  To me, people like Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are heroes.  Freedom and liberty are founded in the 4th Amendment of our Constitution.  These folks help blow the cover off the US intelligent community who thwart such liberty.

After reading the article, I got to thinking.  What if my name were on this list?

Pause, and think about that for a moment.  What if your name were on this list?

A lot of people will say, “well, I have nothing to hide,” but it doesn’t protect them from being spied upon.  I imagine that for someone who doesn’t even fathom that they could have been spied upon will feel violated if they discover otherwise.  Like when you walk into your home and find someone’s been there and has stolen your stuff.

How would I feel if my name were on the list?  The sarcastic side of me would almost be offended if I were not on the list.  I’m sure a chill would run down my spine.  But little else would change.  I wouldn’t change or hush my political beliefs, or stop support of protests and Occupy-like activity.  And if a class action law suit were to commence, I’d seek to be party to it.  I wonder, too, if I would file a FOIA request to find out what data they had collected on me.  And wouldn’t the results of that be mind-blowing?

How would you feel?  What would you do?

February 15, 2003.  Metro-Detroiters march with the world in protesting the United States planned invasion of Iraq.  Photo by Michael Kitchen.
February 15, 2003. Metro-Detroiters march with the world in protesting the United States planned invasion of Iraq. Photo by Michael Kitchen.

Where Are The Men?

What I’m Thinking About Wednesday: May 21, 2014

On Monday, I attended the 84th Bi-Annual Book & Author Luncheon of the Metro Detroit Book & Author Society.  One of the best and largest one-day author events in the country sponsored heavily by local area libraries, this was my fourth luncheon in a row.  The book room opens at 11:00, where people gather to purchase the speaking authors’ books and mingle until the main doors open to the nearly one hundred round tables circled by ten seats each.  Lunch is served, then the writers speak about their book and/or writing career.  At the end, the authors are escorted to tables back in the book room where attendees seeking autographs line up to meet them.

DSC00411

It is blatantly obvious to anyone who attends these luncheons that women outnumber the men.  By a significant margin.  A huge margin.  Each luncheon I have attended I was either the token male at the table, or there would be another who was the spouse of one of the other eight women.  Scott Lasser, who signed a copy of “Say Nice Things About Detroit” in October, 2012, joked with me that this is why more single men should take up writing.  Greg Iles, who signed a copy of “Natchez Burning” on Monday recognized me because I sat at a table three rows from the stage simply because I was one of the few men in the room.  “We’re a rare species at these things,” I told him.  “Women read more,” he replied.

In a 2012 survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts, it found that 56.1% of women, versus 36.9% of men, had read at least one work of literature (novel, short story, poem or play) in the past year.

Gleaning from my own experience, I have found that women tend to read more fiction  Many women friends and acquaintances have talked about books they’ve read either on their own or as a part of their predominantly female book clubs.  When it comes to the men I know, very few of them read, and if they do they are usually works of nonfiction or fantasy fiction.  The garage and estates sales I occasionally visit that have books reveal whether the woman or man of the home was the predominant reader.  Military history, general history, sprinkled with a few espionage or thriller novels, usually by best-selling male authors, fill a male dominated library.  General and literary fiction, as well as romances, adorned the woman-dominated shelves.

Back in 2007, Eric Wiener wrote for NPR his theory about why women read more.  He posits that the fiction gap is a result of women’s higher level of empathic feelings.  “The research is still in its early stages, but some studies have found that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men. That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.”

I tend to agree.  I admit, I’m a male.  I have my moments where I don’t get where someone is coming from.  I can’t understand their experience and their thoughts and actions based upon that experience.   The few male friends I know who read consume plot-driven works about the stagnant protagonist outwitting or overcoming enemy agents, walking dead, dragons, or empirical rule.  Especially if the gadgets and gizmos are cool.

My favorite writer is Lawrence Block.  A grand master of mysteries, Block has created a number of series characters such as the alcoholic private detective Matthew Scudder, the used book store owning burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr, and Keller, the hit man with a heart.  He is my favorite because his was the inspiration for my writing style.  However, his novels are mysteries which are for the most part plot-driven as opposed to character driven.

In literary fiction I am carried into the experience and mind of the protagonist.  I figuratively walk a mile through three to four hundred pages in a character’s shoes.  It not only entertains me, but also forces me to understand humanity.  It is also the fiction I prefer to write, hoping to connect my reader to the heart and soul of my protagonist and characters instead of relying on a clever plot.    Recently, I read William Kent Krueger’s “Tamarack County” which is a character-driven mystery novel.  I still enjoy the fun and style of Lawrence Block’s novels, but Krueger’s novel opened me to the possibility of how to write a literary mystery novel.

I also think reading is a personal endeavor.  Especially when one reads character-driven novels.  And let’s face it.  We guys don’t open up easily.  We prefer results to ambiguity.  We will gladly talk about the weekend’s soccer matches and the performances of our favorite teams and players, but would be less comfortabel to discuss the tragedies that formed Etto’s young life, and how Yuri Fil, Ukranian soccer star, and his sister Zhuki, use soccer to help heal the young man in Brigid Pasulka’s “The Sun and Other Stars.”

Yes, the Metro Detroit Book & Author Luncheon is a Monday daytime event, which prohibits people who have traditional careers to attend.  Yes, the great majority of the attendees are the 65-74 year olds that the NEA found to be the age group with the highest percentage of readers.  And yes, I may be that rare species of male that enjoys reading and writing fiction that is character-driven.  I just have to have the presence of mind which crowd I’m in when it comes to conversation starters.  The table at the luncheon wouldn’t understand much if I shared the fun I had at the Detroit City FC match over the weekend, and my bowling team would give me blank stares if I told them I had attended a book signing with Colum McCann.

Personal anecdote:    My wife and I are the reverse image of this.  She reads nonfiction almost solely, whereas I read far more fiction than nonfiction.  I write fiction so that should be obvious, eh?  In the NPR article by Weiner, he included this quote:  “”We see it every time in our store,” says Carla Cohen, owner of the Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington, D.C. “Women head straight for the fiction section and men head for nonfiction.””  I found this to be funny because Literati Book Store in Ann Arbor has two floors, and when my wife and I go, she heads directly downstairs where the nonfiction is, whereas I browse the fiction shelves on the main floor.

DSC05168 DSC05164