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Amicus Humoriae Compiled by Robert M. Jarvis, Thomas E. Baker, and Andrew J. McClurg (Carolina Academic Press, 258 pages, $25) The chances of finding genuinely funny prose in most law reviews would seem to be in the same range as, say, breathing oxygen on the moon or building a snowman down where Satan lives. But those responsible for the new book Amicus Humoriae: An Anthology of Legal Humor were undaunted by this prospect, and have managed to gather 25 splendid examples of the seriously underdeveloped genre of law review humor writing. “Law review articles — and the people who write them and the people who read them — are serious to a fault,” writes Florida International University College of Law professor Thomas Baker, one of the compilers of the book, in a helpful bibliography. “I believe this professional reality makes the occcasional humorous article that much more of a treasure to behold.” All of the treasures in the book originally appeared in real law reviews. Many of the articles are clearly the product of the fevered brains of bored or restless law professors. One such academic, C. Steven Bradford, seems eager to vent about his law students. He imagines how law students would perform if asked on an exam to recall the opening lines of the Gettysburg Address. A hypothetical “crit” student would question the questioner, as in “What do you mean by the ‘opening’ of the address? At what point does the ‘opening’ end, and the ending open?” There is Maurice Kelman’s wry approximation of how an 18th century legal writing instructor would have critiqued the Constitution. (The preamble is dismissed as “prattle — blah, blah, blah.”) Anthony D’Amato’s right-on rendition of the minutes of a law school faculty meeting is included. “A motion was made to substitute potato chips for corn chips at the next meeting,” he writes, and so on. William Prosser’s futile search for the elusive hornbook “Needlemann on Mortgages” reads like a mystery. Charles Yablon offers a litigator’s guide to suing the devil, and an anonymous author explores the common law origin of baseball’s infield fly rule. Gerald Uelman titled his article “Id.” with the apparent sole purpose of submitting it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the most-cited law review article ever. The body of the article is a wonderful survey of the rich history of name-calling, including the late Justice William O. Douglas’ description of the difference between a schnook and a schlemiel — a distinction he describes as the most important thing he learned at Columbia Law School. And everyone remembers legendary Footnote 4 of the Supreme Court’s 1938 Carolene Products case. An article in the book dissects the unappreciated Footnote 3, filling a scholarly void no one knew existed. Each article is a gem of writing and parody that editors of law reviews should take to heart. But it is also fun reading for all of us poor souls who have ever had to read, write, or cite a law review article. Read it and before you know it, you will find yourself amazed that you are guffawing at law review prose, which will make you think either that you have lost your sanity or that you have truly found the right profession. Either way, it will be a moment of self-discovery and introspection; what more could one ask of a book? Tony Mauro is the Supreme Court correspondent for Legal Times and American Lawyer Media.

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