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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What Wendi Adelson's Novel Reveals About Dan Markel's Murder

WendiWendi Adelson's Criminally Lousy Novel, This is Our Story:

A few months ago, Above the Law published recordings of Adelson’s presentations to a writer’s workshop, held some time after Markel’s murder. Adelson complained, inter alia, that her “late ex-spouse” (a phrase Adelson creatively punned as her “latex spouse”) did not care for fiction  and did not read her book. (Podcast, 9:42-9:47, 10:28-10:33) I found this plaint to be unfair because, whatever his private misgivings, Markel extensively promoted Adelson’s debut novel, “This is Our Story” on his popular academic blog “Prawfsblawg.” (The novel was published in 2011, about a year before Adelson walked out on Markel, with infant children, bank accounts, furniture, and Markel family heirlooms in tow).

In spite of the intense publicity generated by the lurid murder mystery starring herself, I do not believe anyone has yet explored Adelson’s novel as a possible window into the self-perception of its enigmatic author.

Even at the risk of death by Prius-driving hitman, I am compelled endorse the latex Markel’s decision not to read his wife's novel. This is Our Story is inartful, shallow, clichéd, oddly bland given its human trafficking theme, and terribly self-important. Interestingly though, Adelson states that her book purports to tell, in substantial part, her own story. In an afterword to her novel, Adelson states that “I, selfishly, wanted you to know a bit about my story, which has much – but not all – in common with Attorney Lily” (i.e. the main character in the novel). Adelson, Wendi (2011-09-12). This is Our Story (Kindle Locations 3948-3949). Kindle Edition. ...

My interpretation of the breakup scene is that author Wendi Adelson was signaling through her fiction that she not only wanted to divorce Markel, but that she also wanted him out of the lives of her kids. The naming question in the novel foreshadows Adelson's real life behavior, post murder, in changing her children's surnames from Markel to Adelson and removing the middle name of one son because it referenced Markel's deceased grandmother.

I think it is also likely that Adelson wrote the novel in order to promote herself as the public face of the morally unimpeachable cause of female antislavery, notwithstanding her lack of literary talent, her relatively meager academic credentials, and her relative inexperience as a practicing lawyer. This is Our Story was chosen as featured reading for the thousands of incoming freshmen at Florida State, and was also enthusiastically profiled in the Florida Bar News. ...

In the novel, Lily’s heroic work is obstructed by a clueless and condescending husband whom she has outgrown. Hubby Josh whines and snivels, but ultimately accepts his marching orders. However, discarding Josh’s real-life model seems to have been a messier proposition. 

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/10/what-wendi-adelsons-novel-reveals-about-dan-markels-murder.html

Book Club, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

Here is the real reason why Wendi was "upset" that Dan did not read her book. She intentionally portrayed him as hapless, clumsy, petty and critical, and described in detail how she did not love him. She wanted him to read it so he would know exactly how she felt about him. I bet he did read it (parts, at least) but told her he didn't to avoid this issue and further insult. I bet Wendi couldn't wait to tell him in an argument that the character was all based on him. He never gave her that chance by telling her he didn't read it.

Wendi seems just as bad as the rest of her family. Real terrible person, on top of being a terrible writer.

Posted by: JM | Oct 19, 2016 6:41:39 AM

Ouch.

In the novel, Lily’s heroic work is obstructed by a clueless and condescending husband whom she has outgrown.

One does get the impression, given what she says about herself, that she never really married him in the sense of regarding his interests as her interests and enjoying his accomplishments. She seems to have had more of a competitive disposition toward her husband, then found him an irritating reduncancy.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 19, 2016 7:53:53 AM

anyone interested in Wendi Adelson's mindset must take the semi-autobiographical details from the novel in conjunction with her comments from a Miami writing workshop. the link Paul shares above from outside the law school scam includes a link to the Soundcloud audio from the workshop. It is quite clear that Wendi regretted marrying Dan quite soon after marrying him and rarely misses an opportunity to put him down. my armchair psychology tells me that Wendi really desired some suave debonair James Bond type but instead settled for a guy who would be a good father and provider, not cheat on her and not slap her around. actual love was way down the list of reasons she married him. can't help but feel for the guy.

how Wendi goes from regretting her marriage (something thousands of people do every single year) to murder is a leap that is beyond my understanding

Posted by: Tyler | Oct 19, 2016 9:21:04 AM

Fascinating analysis. I've been following the case closely and listened to the podcast, but somehow, it didn't occur to me to look at the novel Wendi wrote and referred to.

Posted by: Barbara Noetzel | Oct 19, 2016 9:43:54 AM

The more I learn about Wendi, the more she seems like a deeply narcissistic drama queen. Perhaps the murder itself was an unconscious effort to put herself in the center of a novel.

Posted by: Travis | Oct 19, 2016 11:02:31 AM

Those who'd like to sample the book without sending any money the wrong way can get a Kindle sample for free at:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005MRA7NQ/

The samples are usually the first 10% of the book. This one literally opens, I kid you not, talking about underwear. That must be a first in literary history.

"Grandma always warned me: never share your underwear. Mom advised: go to law school and find yourself a good husband. My husband Joshua said: write this story. I have listened to only some of the sage advice I have received over the years."

Not exactly Jane Austin in Pride and Prejudice. I also can't recall any book that opens with such a clumsy use of colons. With an Amazon rank of over a million for the print version, it can't be flying off the shelves either.

I may read that sample just for laughs. Writing classes might use it as an example of how not to write. Florida State should be ashamed for forcing it on students.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Oct 19, 2016 11:05:29 AM

But it still looks like she got away with having him murdered.
And make no mistake, she was involved.

Posted by: John Van Stry | Oct 19, 2016 11:07:24 AM

The argument that the Novel was intended to convey how Wendi viewed Dan and her marriage is even more chilling because the picture on the cover is Wendi herself!. Look closely: She's so vain (and transparent) that she put herself on the cover of her own novel. When Dan told me this a few years back, I didn't know what to make of it. But this thread now makes it seem clear.

Posted by: SamL | Oct 19, 2016 11:28:46 AM

These comments seem cruel, indelicate, and, frankly, unnecessarily demeaning.

Posted by: L4 | Oct 19, 2016 8:42:17 PM

Our friend and colleague, who was violently killed, was demeaned in this semi-autobiographical text, which he remarkably publicized. Excuse us if the reviews are less than charitable.

Posted by: Grant | Oct 20, 2016 7:57:14 AM

Putting a bullet in someone's head is pretty indelicate too.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 20, 2016 8:05:47 AM

actual love was way down the list of reasons she married him. can't help but feel for the guy.

Actual love is what you acquire living with someone and looking after them.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 20, 2016 8:07:42 AM

Read it and weep!!!

Posted by: Laz | Oct 20, 2016 10:06:39 AM

At least the Wendi 'bio blurb' for the book on this website (http://www.mfbooks.us/mfb/node/9) - again, written before the separation or the murder - states that "She resides in Florida with her boys." No mention of her husband.

Posted by: more on book | Oct 20, 2016 2:13:06 PM

"She resides in Florida with her boys." No mention of her husband.

It looks like it was written in 2013, when they were separated.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 21, 2016 7:38:04 AM

Actually, the book was first self-published in 2011 and includes the same blurb on the back cover of the 2011 version.

Posted by: SuperDooper | Oct 22, 2016 5:47:02 PM

Maybe the late Prof. Markel thought 'her boys' referred to father and sons.

Posted by: Art Deco | Oct 23, 2016 7:46:43 AM

You know what they say about opinions, and everyone having one

Posted by: Anon2009 | Oct 23, 2016 7:19:19 PM

Looks like the docket in Magbanua's case has downgraded her charge to 2nd Degree Murder. That must mean she's agreed to talk.

Has anyone tried booking an appointment at the Adelson Institute, lately?

Posted by: Travis | Oct 24, 2016 10:31:41 AM

Maybe Wendi can use her expertise in immigration law to help her and her family take up permanent residence at the Ecuadorian embassy in London with Assange... relocate the Adelson Institute. Give Ecuadorian diplomats fresh new smiles?

Posted by: juniper | Oct 24, 2016 2:07:01 PM

I did and CA is out of the office indefinitely. I asked is he trading in his scrubs for some orange ones? Receptionist hung up on me.

Posted by: Laz | Oct 24, 2016 2:18:31 PM

"Grandma always warned me: never share your underwear. Mom advised: go to law school and find yourself a good husband. My husband Joshua said: write this story. I have listened to only some of the sage advice I have received over the years."

This seems like another shot at Dan. She wrote the book and she found a husband in law school, so either she shared her underwear or she didn't find a goodhusband.

I'm shocked by how open she was with her animosity. How could Dan have been blindsided?

Posted by: Marshal | Oct 25, 2016 8:24:24 AM

Exactly Marshal. I'm assuming she's saying she found a poor husband. The jury's out on whether or not she shares her unmentionables.

Posted by: carrie | Oct 25, 2016 12:24:10 PM

Expertise in immigration law? Wendi isn't an expert in any area of the law. Bet she's Never tried a case. She'll become an expert at appellate law soon though, ineffective asssitance of counsel, typical prisoner law.

Posted by: N | Oct 25, 2016 8:09:25 PM