Crisscrossing Manhattan, Jeremy, a New York lawyer uneasy with success, confronts his doubts through a series of encounters with the hard-edged, unpredictable life of the city. Revealed through these meetings, friendships and events are war stories of the courtroom and of the analytic couch; memories of Lenny Bruce and Jackie Robinson; the wiles of clever lawyers, Washington in-fighters, of a boss called the Soft Killer, of celebrity poker players and would-be reformers; recollections of frontier Israel and rural Georgia in the sixties. Behind Jeremy lies a brash West Side youth spent amid ethnic gangs and McCarthyism, the special ways of an only child, an idealist out of phase...
These are a few ingredients of the provocative milieu of Short Takes, Michael Meltsner's unsettling first novel about a lawyer for whom love and work are always intertwined, a man who no longer believes in rules but continues to live by them. Jeremy is a lover who refuses to let go, a New Yorker at odds with the harsh pace and fractious spirit of his city until in the end he negotiates his own terms.
Previously published in hardcover by Random House, this novel is newly republished in paperback and eBooks by Quid Pro Books.
"Short Takes, Michael Meltsner's engaging and extremely well written first novel, creates a character of enormous vitality and considerable charm: funny, caring, searching and all-too-humanly paradoxical."
"In 'The Trial' Kafka's Joseph K. tries to discover what sort of crime he is charged with. In 'Short Takes' Jeremy tries to discover his innocence. The difference is interesting... 'Landscape is character,' according to Henry James, and some of 'Short Takes' is about Jeremy's relationship to New York City. 'The most abiding problem I have about New York, he says, is the need to explain it. In Manhattan, no one can suspend disbelief... problems are too large for solution and can only be managed.'"
—The New York Times
"The real triumph of Short Takes is that it not only rings true but affirms the pleasures of lawyering... Confusion is the hallmark of modern times--and deep down, both Mr. Meltsner and Jeremy are aware that the ambiguities of urban life and lawyering have a vast richness."
—Tamar Lewin, in National Law Journal