Onyx reviews: Butterflies Do Not Sleep in Hot Tubs by Nancy McCoy
Reviewed by Bev Vincent, 2000
It is tempting to jokingly refer to Nancy McCoy's book as Chicken Soup for
the Lawyer's Soul, especially given that it is subtitled: "A Lawyer's
Tortured Search for Truth." However, between these covers is nothing so
bland as chicken soup. Gumbo, perhaps, or a well-spiced chili.
Butterflies... is a collection of over three dozen short essays on
life. McCoy is living with her eyes wide open and, in these vignettes, creates
some thought-provoking, funny, sad and memorable images. Even though many of the
essays pertain to her life as a law student or lawyer, McCoy's observations are
universal. They are -- as they used to say on TV -- things that make you go
McCoy learns from just about everyone she meets, it seems. She recalls
encounters with a former mentor and a legal secretary at her firm with equal
fondness. She even has a take-home message from a run-in with a beagle where she
came out second best. She takes a critical look at her own priorities when she
realizes that one year she spent more money on lawn care than she gave to
While McCoy now works as an attorney for a large company ("helping the
big fish eat the small fish" is how she describes it), she has a rich past
as a people's advocate. She describes several cases in which her opponents were
large insurance companies that would rather force a policy holder into court
than pay out claims. In one case, her client turns down a settlement offer
because being found right is more important than the monetary rewards. In
another, her client agrees to a settlement partway through the trial. McCoy
derives lessons from both of these outcomes. Her skill -- and her art -- is in
looking beyond right or wrong to see what can be learned from any situation.
McCoy writes in a conversational style. She relates these anecdotes in much
the same way that you might expect her to do over dinner or at a bar with a
group of friends. Occasionally bawdy, quite often sentimental and more often
than not with a wry smile just below the surface. Her anecdotes address serious
issues ("Why Women Don't Report Rape"), she indulges herself in a
couple of rants (concerning the OJ Simpson case and Oprah's encounter with the
veggie libel law) and offers a fable or two.
These are stories from an ordinary life. In spite of the fact that she is now
a lawyer, McCoy's life experiences will be familiar to most: Getting married,
having children, working toward a career, taking risks and then learning how to
change gears when the risks don't work out the way they were supposed to.
Everyone has funny stories to tell about family members, friends or total
strangers. But not everyone is able to derive a significant lesson from these
encounters and grow from the experience.
The truths that McCoy has learned in the course of her life, the ones she
shares with readers in this book, are not lofty philosophical truisms. They are,
rather, honest lessons that will inspire readers to look more carefully at
people around them and to consider the important lessons in everyday life.
McCoy, a Houston lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Law at University of
Houston, resides in Willis. "Butterflies Do Not Sleep in Hot Tubs" is
generally available at bookstores in the Houston area and at the odd pool supply
shop. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book goes to the Harry
Web site and all contents © Copyright Bev Vincent
2017. All rights reserved.