Midwest Book Review — Fuck You, Your Honor

F*ck You, Your Honor is an unusual blend of political and legal satire offering thought- provoking insights into legal systems, and is written from the perspective of a lawyer who is assessed an unusual punishment by a judge: to write a sixty-five thousand word book extolling the dignity and integrity of the legal system, due in a year.

The protagonist of this novel has been a lawyer for fifteen years: his skill set don’t include writing a book. Moreover, he muses about the legality of this punishment and his obligation to produce it, as well as the judge’s underlying motivation (“What was this judge – some kind of bibliophile?”). Nonetheless, being a dutiful servant of the legal process, the lawyer embarks on his assigned duty, and F*ck You, Your Honor thus becomes as much a parody of the legal profession as it is the story of a lawyer who takes a different approach than the judge had expected.

Determined to get revenge for what he views as an unfair ruling, Darwyn “Wyn” VanWye uses the written word as a bludgeon to attack the legal system in a manner that outlines the dignity and integrity of a system under siege while pointing out its failures. His reviews of cases, lawyer proceedings, and justice rendered and thwarted provide a series of tongue-in-cheek observations of both the legal process and Wyn’s struggles with romance, an ex-wife, and his tumultuous personal life. Can his writing actually solve two problems at once?

Readers should expect plenty of wry comments on legal systems (“It is easier to make a mistake, to be wrong, rather than to be wronged. To be unfairly singled out and suffer a travesty of justice. Some cases are just decided unfairly; even though you are noble and right, there is no chance, the door is shut and locked tight, the case is poisoned, and there is nothing you can do. It is one of those obstacles in life. You can fret and worry and agonized over it, whine about it, becomes the neighborhood nut, allow it to paralyze you, waste an entire year. Or you can accept it and move on, however unjust, and simply do it, write the book already.”)

As Wyn’s observations and experiences are documented, readers come to realize how he got in the position he’s in and why his choices (to satisfy the letter of the law while producing something unexpectedly creative and critically revealing) are both logical and extraordinary at the same time.

A lawyer has trouble admitting he’s wrong, and can always come up with a convincing argument. But what if the process of crafting that argument backfires? What if an order to produce a book is the wrong response to a legal issue of unpaid alimony – and what if the book can be used to right that wrong somehow?

As author, Craig Chambers (a lawyer himself) romps through Wyn’s life and cases, readers receive an insider’s view of how justice and legal proceedings often are flavored with overtones of revenge: “In my cases, I usually sequester the witnesses, making them wait out in the hallway so they can’t be influenced by the other witnesses’ testimony. And so they will be totally bored. That will teach them to testify against my client.”

Inspired by a similar real-word situation where a book project was assigned as punishment, F*ck You, Your Honor is a wry examination of the legal system’s failings from an argumentative lawyer’s prospective: one who has fin-tuned the art of defiance into a subtle dig at the system in which he operates.

Readers who want an out-of-the-box production that doesn’t neatly fall into a particular genre but which subtly and effectively lambastes the ironies and inconsistencies of legal process will find much to enjoy in F*ck You, Your Honor, a sterling and lovely, vivid portrait of the transformative experiences of lawyers, law school grads, and obstacles to the pursuits of wealth and happiness.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review  

Seattle Book Review –F*ck You, Your Honor

Star Rating: 4/5

“Counselor,” Judge Solomon scowled, “this book project is due in exactly one year. There will be no excuses and no continuances will be granted. Not just any book. A book about the dignity and integrity of the legal system. At least sixty-five thousand words. Any questions?” Darwyn “Wyn” VanWye, attorney and real estate salesman, is in court for “conduct that interferes with the administration of justice” and is handed a very interesting and unusual sentence to atone for his delinquent alimony payments. Instead of being thankful to have avoided community service or possible jail time, VanWye is determined to find a way out of doing his penance.

F*ck You, Your Honor is a series of narratives and anecdotes about the law career and real estate dealings of VanWye and musings about his personal and marital issues. Many of his activities could be said to stretch the limits of the law at times, both in real estate, court, and life in general, but he constantly finds ways to explain his ways through and around these actions. His dealings with his wife are comical and sad but honest. At one point, he disables her garage door, expecting her to call him to fix it, and is disappointed and confused when she doesn’t.

Just when you think this is a man who really should be punished for breaking laws, he shows you a kinder, more conscientious side. He believes in free first appointments for potential clients and even does pro bono work for friends. There is more to him than even he realizes.

When he finally accepts the fact that he must complete this assignment to avoid losing his practice, what results is a book that is funny and poignant and does more than fulfilling the requirements of the sentence. One can’t help but cheer for VanWye!

Reviewed by Tamara Benson, Seattle Book Review

F–k You, Your Honor, Reviewed by Jim Bates, Former Managing Editor, Denver Post

The author is both a Realtor and a lawyer.  So is the narrator. So is this autobiography? Of course not. But it does mean he knows what he is talking about.

The narrator is Wyn VanWye who has been sentenced by a judge to write a book about the legal system as punishment for unspecified legal transgressions. This comes at a bad time for Wyn, who is desperately trying to reconcile with his ex-wife while hitting a career low — quietly living in a foreclosed HUD house while trying to practice law from his iPhone.

The judge’s order serves as a loose framework for a cascade of legal anecdotes — some absurd, some a bit distressing — about the the legal system. Against this background of stories (think lawyers sitting around a table at a bar late in the evening, exchanging their favorite tales), Wyn slowly and less-than-steadily tries to figure out what to do and who he is.

The little legal tidbits are the heart of the book. But the arc and the adventure is Wyn. He is not always the most lovable character, but you rise and fall with him and in the end you are rooting for him.

Is this a great expose of the judicial system? No. But it is a satire that one can learn from and enjoy. Like the legal system it satirizes, it encompasses a little bit of everything.

If your father was a lawyer, or you thought about law school or if you have served on a jury or have been served with a legal paper, you should give the book a try. You might learn something and you will likely enjoy it.

Jim Bates, Former Managing Editor, Denver Post

San Francisco Book  Review — F-ck You, Your Honor

Star Rating: 4.5/5

Darwyn VanWyn, or “Wyn” as his TV commercials bill him, is a lawyer with problems. No office, no home, and trying to negotiate with his ex-wife over the alimony payments he owes her. So at a court hearing trying to reduce the payments, the judge orders him to write a 65,000-word book about the “dignity and integrity” of the legal system as a result of some courtroom infraction he didn’t even know he committed. So, while forced to attend an ethics seminar and write his book, Wyn reminisces on his life and how he arrived at the place he has ended up.

F*ck You, Your Honor is the novel of what happens in Jimmy McGill’s head during any episode of Better Call Saul — especially if he was getting divorced and fighting with his ex-wife over his collection of vinyl records. Always meaning well, but making poor decisions along the way. The character of Wyn is so much like Jimmy, that after a while you begin to picture Bob Odenkirk’s face and voice while you read. If an audio book is ever produced, it will be a grave injustice for Odenkirk not to be the narrator.

The book is both ha-ha funny and funny uh-oh. Chambers is great with both internal and external dialog, with well-rounded characters and settings, making F*ck You an easy, funny book. And along the way, you are introduced to some of the intricacies of the legal system and courtroom processes. An excellent book — one that that will (should) be on any lawyer’s and Better Call Saul fans’ nightstand. And does Wyn finish his book? Yes, but as you might expect Jimmy to do, it isn’t what the judge expected when passing down the punishment.

Reviewed by Bradley Allen

F**k You, Your Honor —  Reviewed by Mark Lehnertz, Tattered Cover Bookstore (Indie Bound)

Some novels are ambitious, sweeping, life altering events — hurricanes. Others are closely focused, like morning fog that changes the light, allowing you to momentarily step sideways into a life so completely not your own that you are left wondering how someone lives such a different life. In the novel, “F**k You, Your Honor, Craig Chambers has written a book very much the latter.

The main character, Daryl “Wyn” VanWye, is an attorney and real estate broker, as self-unaware and ill-fit in his own life as Salinger’s Holden Caulfield or Ignatius J. Reilly from Toole’s “Confederacy of Dunces.” Wyn’s tale begins in a state of disbelief that he has been ordered by a judge to write a book about the dignity and integrity of the legal system, punishment for a minor misconduct.

There is a deft, dark comedy of conflated tragedy to Wyns’ existence. Everything in his world has already spiraled into a tiny phone-booth-of-a-life, socially, professionally, romantically. Despite his obvious legal knowledge and competent business judgment, each speed bump is a Himalayan Range of stunned paralysis.

He casts about trying to win a heroic, epic battle with an HOA over a house painting irregularity, yet he can’t help but engaging in behavior that neither his conscience nor his ex can be bothered to remark upon as stalking, so ineffectual is he at it.

So low is his life that he is a homeless real estate agent living in a foreclosure.

Upon this epic trivial suffering is heaped the requirement to write a book, an Iliad-and-Odyssey. Wyn’s struggles are each truly of the form of a hero’s journey as perfectly clipped and stunted by Chambers as a bonsai in macro-focus. Even as we laugh and cringe at Wyn, there is something in this story which allows us to see that the mote in our neighbor’s eye really is the beam in our own.

Reviewed by Mark Lehnertz

Library Thing — Fuck You, Your Honor

Star Rating: 4/5

I had my misgivings about this book, it was written by a lawyer, about a lawyer who was tasked to write a book about the ‘dignity and integrity’ of the justice system. This book. I was trying to decide if the author was the lawyer in question, hiding behind fiction, or of it was a bit of meta humor pulling my leg. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, it was a good book that I enjoyed reading and have no problem recommending it to others.

Darwyn “Wyn” VanWye is a lawyer and real estate agent. He appears to have the ego most associate with lawyers and that same blind spot for self reflection. He is always going on about stories in both his real estate dealings and his law practice, giving  a look inside his life allowing us to see a truth he seems unable to.

“Win with Wyn” was his tv commercial motto from years ago. Some people still remember his from those commercials. Now, he’s recently divorced, he is pining for his ex-wife, and she had a much better lawyer than he was, since she took everything and most of his income as alimony payments. Wyn is now squatting in a repossessed HUD home, trying to dodge the few realtors showing the place. He is driving an old bright yellow Ford Festiva, which he got in replacement of attorneys fees. And his “office” is a booth at a diner, which happens to be owned by one of his clients battling a custody case.

So to say he is struggling with life might be a reasonable view. And then in the midst of this, a judge orders him to write a book on the ‘dignity and integrity’ of the justice system, at least 65,000 words. Wyn is at a loss to even understand where this order came from and what he was ‘guilty; of doing to receive such a ruling.

I did enjoy the book and it is told in many small little stories, showing the good things that can happen and the bad, when dealing with the law, lawyers, and judges. Lawyers can have their hands in anything and when they lose sight of people and just try to ‘win’ at their job, injustices can occur. I would say that the book felt as if there was a bit of truth in it, and it makes me want to avoid ever having to deal with the justice system in a personal manner, and even less with lawyers for any reason.


F-ck You, Your Honor — Portland Book Review  

Star Rating:  4/5

Craig Chambers’ satirical novel, F*ck You, Your Honor, is a rambling somewhat chaotic mess that is a surprisingly enjoyable read. Darwyn VanWye is in a bit of a predicament. His wife, Amalia, recently divorced him, he’s struggling with both of his jobs as both as a lawyer and a real estate broker, and he’s been sentenced by a judge (for what exactly, he’s not sure) to write “a book about the dignity and integrity of the legal system.” What follows is an exploration of Darwyn’s various experiences both as a lawyer and a real estate broker, while he attempts to reconnect with his ex-wife, and continues to procrastinate working on his unfair sentencing.

“When you go to court, you simply hope for a break or that common sense sets it.”

The book’s chapters are short, often only a few pages long, and while the main story does slowly progress, it is often interrupted by remembrances of past clients and frequently loops back to Amalia. The various anecdotes are humorous, point out the flaws in the legal system and how people can use it to their advantage, as well as highlighting the dubious morality of our narrator. The book is rarely laugh-out loud funny, — some of the tales are much more engaging than others — but is likely to keep readers highly amused at Darwyn’s various interactions and observations. The writing is solid, easy to read, and due to the shortness of the chapters, makes it perfect for reading a few stories before bed.

As usual, the book won’t be for everyone as the world of law and real estate isn’t going to be engrossing for all potential readers. Due to the slightly rambling nature of the book’s structure, readers who are looking for a traditional narrative driven plot may not be fully satisfied. Readers interested in satire and those who enjoy a touch of schadenfreude are likely to find this an enjoyable read.

Portland Book Review