Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Truth and the Law by Meldon D. Jenkins-Jones, RPL Law Librarian

            Lawyers are not noted for their passion, ethics, or morals. But this is the stuff of David Baldacci’s novels. Can you imagine the public law library as the birthplace of an exciting adventure story with characters inspired by real-life political figures? Noted Virginia author and lawyer David Baldacci did, as he shared during his “Researching Law and Justice in a Novel Way” lecture at the Library of Virginia during its exhibit "You Have No Right: Law and Justice in Virginia".

His passion for libraries and reading translated into one of his best-selling fictions where the library is the scene of a murder.  A law library like ours supplied Baldacci with a plot in the form of a real legal case reported in the law books.  Indeed, Baldacci, a Richmond native, compared a trial attorney to a storyteller, and promoted libraries as great places to research novels. Baldacci’s novels not only involve murders by various techniques, but geopolitics, and modern controversies of constitutional rights and responsibilities, such as the government’s use of drones or rights of privacy and security. He emphasized the importance of fiction as an arena for debating important moral and ethical issues of today. Richmond public Library has an impressive collection of Baldacci novels.
As a writer and retired lawyer myself, I was fascinated by Baldacci's passion for adult literacy. He and his wife co-founded the Wish You Well Foundation to fight illiteracy. He was praised by Alison Bonaguro in her 2012 Virginia Living article occasioned by his receipt of the National Literacy Leadership Award from the National Coalition for Literacy. http://www.virginialiving.com/arts-events/david-baldacci/  

            As a storyteller, Baldacci treated us to the true anecdotes about the writing of several of his books. For instance, he researched Wish You Well at the Library of Virginia here in Richmond.  Author of children’s books as well as short stories, he advised aspiring writers to just tell the story—don’t worry about what genre it is. More importantly, like Baldacci, writers should be concerned with making sure that readers think about the moral and ethical dilemmas of the characters, and what constitutes the truth. To learn more about Baldacci, visit his website at http://davidbaldacci.com/

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