“On a Friday that began ordinarily enough, Matt Durant’s left hook ended two lives.”
Defense of an Other tells the story of a closeted gay lawyer who kills defending against a bigoted attack and his trial, exploring the human dimension of equal protection.
Grace is a practicing lawyer born and raised in Louisiana who graduated from Dartmouth College and then became the Editor-in-Chief of The University of Chicago Law Review. Her 17-year career has included a one-year clerkship for the appellate court with jurisdiction over Louisiana federal trial courts and 16 years of civil litigation.
Law & Order Meets Southern Story-Telling
Set in the French Quarter, the first chapter tells of a day in the life of a young lawyer named Matt Durant gone horribly awry. After work and a few beers, Matt works up the courage to visit a gay bar, where he meets a stranger named Joey Buckner. When Matt and Joey duck into an alley behind the bar to take a leak, three drunks target them for a hate crime and beat up Joey, which forces Matt to attack and kill one of the men. Matt is then arrested for murder, thrown in Orleans Parish Prison, and calls his boss for help, forcing him out of the closet. The novel then follows the course of his trial and explores its consequences. Heavily influenced by political fiction like Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, Defense of an Other combines southern storytelling with the gritty legal realism of Law & Order.
“In Defense of an Other, I tried to heed Toni Morrison’s advice to write the book you want to read, in three ways,” said Grace, who was born and raised in Louisiana. “First, I hope it’s a story that would command attention over beers on a back porch in Louisiana — in the first couple of chapters, there’s boxing, drinking, dancing, a killing, and prison. Second, I hope it engages the reader in complex legal issues, crucial in deciding which politicians to elect and which judges to appoint. Finally, I hope it captures the loneliness, isolation, and pain of being closeted and fearing violence from strangers and rejection from those you love most. I couldn’t have written a book of this quality before my transition.”
Here are links to five essays discussing Grace's life experiences and the first chapter of Defense of an Another.