Grisham and Sports

November 07, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I'm not sure how many of John Grisham's legal mysteries I've read.  5-10 maybe?  They're generally good, enjoyable books on which to while away a day or two.

I just finished "Calico Joe", the third sports-related book by Grisham that I've read and felt all three were something special (the other two were "Bleachers" and "Playing for Pizza").  I'll try to explain why I enjoyed these so much, but it's not easy. 

First of all, they don't feel like they are written by the same person who writes the mysteries.  Maybe because the pace and plot requirements are different.  Maybe because they are much more character stories than action thrillers (or legal thrillers or whatever the proper term is).

Maybe it has to do with the characters themselves.  Bleachers and Playing for pizza center around football players who have the talent to excel but, due to circumstance or personality, don't, and about how they come to grips with this.  It's not easy to realize that you can't do something you love forever (except, hopefully for me, photography).  I remember playing baseball in high school and realizing that I wouldn't get the chance to play for the Yankees (although I still dream of the possibility).  So I can certainly empathise with

Calico Joe is a baseball story and is more about a person whose childhood dreams are built on or broken by others.  It alternate between modern times and events 30 years before when Paul (the main character) was 11, an age when you live and die with your favorite team and players.  A young phenom comes up to the majors and plays as well as every person who has ever dreamed of playing baseball would wish for themselves, breaking records with skill, grace and style.  Paul's father is a journeyman pitcher who has anger and drinking issues, feels unappreciated and that he's much better than his career has turned out.  When the pitcher and the phenom collide, bad things happen.  In the modern part, Paul's father (very much estranged) is dying of cancer and Paul feels things need to be aired between his father and the former phenom.

Go read it.  Read the others too.  They are wonderful.


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