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Happy Hour Is for Amateurs: A Lost Decade in the World's Worst Profession Hardcover – October 14, 2008

78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this nihilistic memoir, the author, creator of the Philadelphia Lawyer blog, addresses both the bankruptcy of the American legal system and his own predilection for substance abuse. His pseudonym, he says, refers both to the city where the author practiced and to a disparaging term for an unscrupulous lawyer. A former frat boy, the author entered law school for lack of better ideas only to find that the material bored him and his studies interfered with getting drunk. Still, he persisted, and his quest for big money led him through criminal law, civil litigation and personal injury law. Although he never gets rich, he is able to ingest large quantities of drugs in the company of equally debauched friends. The author writes with intermittent brio, and his critiques of his profession are pointed and astute. However, the endless tales of sleazy sex and drunken escapades might go over well with bar-stool buddies, but on the page they make a depressing blur. Other people barely seem to exist for him: of his future wife we learn little more than that she has a dancer's ass and amazing nipples. With a lot more empathy and self-awareness, the author might have created a devastating portrayal of the current debasement of the American professional classes. (Oct.)
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“I was fired from my first legal job within a month, and this book explains why it was the best thing to ever happen to me.” (Tucker Max, author of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell)

“Takes sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll deep into the bowels of modern law. If justice is blind, then The Philadelphia Lawyer is the pop culture’s new canine guide for the visually impaired...intensely insightful.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Drinking, drugging and the ungallant pursuit of the female form...the author serves up some raucous fun and boozy amusement -- just like any happy hour.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“A rollicking, booze-fueled joyride through the dark underbelly of the American legal system.” (Frank Kelly Rich, author of The Modern Drunkard)

“Raucous, hilarious, and disturbing in all the right ways. I got drunk just reading this book.” (A.J. Baime, Executive Editor, Playboy)

“The Philadelphia Lawyer leaps off the printed page like a seersuckered superhero -- a literary lothario Hunter S. Thompson would have been proud to call ‘Counselor.’” (Mark Ebner, co-author of Hollywood Interrupted)

See all Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061349496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061349492
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,434,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Bart on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Half-memoir, half-gonzo, Happy Hour Is For Amateurs is greater than the sum of its autobiographical parts. Ultimately, the book is a morality play; the deadly sins are sacrificing happiness for a paycheck and perpetuating the status quo in a morally bankrupt industry.

Some readers may object to the author's profanity and depiction of drug and alcohol use--of course, some readers call Mark Twain "racist" and Aldous Huxley "immoral." In other words, if you have a weak constitution or delicate sensibilities, this book probably isn't for you.

This book is for: (1) every worker who's ever felt like a cog or an itinerant, (2) every person who thinks, "this is as good as it gets for me," and (3) anyone who enjoys funny, insightful writing on topics most people can relate to. From the book: "There's an accidental wisdom in following. Letting something else define you narrows the decisions you have to make. It gives you parameters, a track to follow and a holiday from all the angst that comes with carving your own path." `Following' is exactly what some people need--this book is for everyone else.

Happy Hour Is For Amateurs is not a book about being a lawyer, it's a book about being unsatisfied with what you do. (Though it's completely, depressingly accurate if you want to know what the actual practice of law is like for the majority of attorneys.) It's about settling and the push-pull of childhood dreams--and adult dreams--against the weight of responsibility and expectations. Philalawyer escaped, and most of us haven't, a fact sure to generate equal measures of envy and hostility. Either way, this book is compulsory reading for every disaffected office monkey, every fungible bureaucrat.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Griffin on October 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The introductory author's note concludes with Sergeant Hulka's memorable line from Stripes "Lighten up, Francis" and it sets the tone for what's to come. Occasionally, pre-release examination copies will cross my desk, but this was the first book to inspire me to jump on Amazon and write a review.

Happy Hour is for Amateurs is not for everyone. If you're easily offended, you might do better to avoid the book. More importantly, if you rely on cognitive dissonance to get through 9-5 life, then the book might shake your fragile mental farce a little too violently.

Philadelphia Lawyer tells the story of a young man fresh out of college who is beaten down over the course of a decade in the legal profession. The lines between work and play, misery and happiness are often blurred, and each chapter is a slightly different take following an overarching theme of discontent leading to self-actualization. Perhaps the author's greatest strength is his ability to maintain a fast-paced, page-turning plot while interspersing insightful anecdotes that put into words all the random thoughts I've had about corporate culture, leaving me wondering "why the hell didn't I write this?" Yet, at the same time, I realize that it takes great craft to make life's mundanity compelling.

Philadelphia Lawyer writes like a man who isn't afraid to write. So often writers are concerned with what others might think; what literary conventions or technicalities to abide by in order to appeal to a certain crowd, but in this book the language comes relentless and unrestrained. Pop culture references from the last half century blend seamlessly with serious deliberations on legal culture and its implications on sanity.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By C. Brown on September 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This was an enormously entertaining book.

But before I jump into the superlatives, I think it's important to make a distinction between this book and the other bourbon-soaked tales of anal sex and professionally hazardous hangovers that this emerging genre has seen over the past few years. This book is more than the sum of its drugs, fornication and booze - it is a crushing social critique of a respected profession and of thousands of its practitioners. The author attacks the American legal system as a complicit antihero, publishing a decade worth of subversion. He portrays the frenetic courtroom, the golden shackles that bind him to his work and the familiar (for some of us) haze of substance abuse. Based on 10 years that would have driven most to a Xanax prescription, he manages to write one of the funniest books I've ever read.

And that's really what matters, right? Sure, there are strokes of brilliance and the sort of introspection that makes you want to step back and re-examine your own life. But there is also a swimsuit model trying to shoot herself in the face with a taser, a hockey team locked in the back of a Uhaul with a keg and few naked lesbians thrown in for good measure. And that's what life should be about.

Formulating my thoughts on this book took me a little while. This is due in part, I feel, to the author's willful disregard for the molds I like to fit books into. It's refreshing to read books like this - ones that challenge you. Fortunately, for all its complexity, it never loses itself; the tangents of the narrative never detract from the point. It is painfully funny and brutally honest; the sordid confession from a man who is not the least bit sorry.

I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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