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Ford County: Stories Hardcover – November 3, 2009
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Pat Conroy is most recently the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller South of Broad, as well as eight previous books: The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, and The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. He lives on Fripp Island, South Carolina. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of Ford County:
In the mail last week, I received a copy of John Grisham’s latest fiction. It surprised me that the book was comprised of seven short stories. From the time I first began publishing at Doubleday, they have always made sure that I received a copy of a Grisham book long before it went on sale in the bookstores. He has written 22 books, and I’ve read them all as soon as they were available in crisp review copies.
I have loved the Grisham books for the same reason that I love the works of John Irving, Richard Russo, or Anne Rivers Siddons: I get hooked by an early page, and pure habit forces me to read until I am issued my walking papers and can return to my normal life. These writers are all wish-bringers who cast spells with the bright enchantment of their stories, and the power of story has retained its glamour and necessity for me. I’ve always liked it when Grisham took a sabbatical from his impressive fiction to romp in the field of sports or non-fiction.
John surprised me by entering the ring of danger that the short story represents for all writers. In the world of writing, the poets come first as they finger the language like worry beads and wonder where their next meal is coming from. The art of the short story writer is one of economy, concision, and the genius of trying to craft a whole world inside a mason jar. The modern world punishes the short story writer with inattention. The literary reviews keep the short story alive and finger-popping in America today, while the New Yorker tries to strangle the form with its bare hands. But a great short story is a source of joy, and the reading of Chekhov, de Maupassant, Flannery O’Connor and others offer pleasures unmatched by any other form. Since I’m incapable of writing the short story form, I wanted to see how Grisham fared, knowing the critics would sharpen their swords against him no matter how accomplished his stories might be.
Ford County is the best writing that John Grisham has ever done. One of the many things I’ve admired about his books is his intimate chronicle of Mississippi life in the generations following William Faulkner and Eudora Welty. Grisham writes equally well about the plantation south, the black south, and white-cracker south. Over the years he has used the legal system as an instrument to illuminate the world of mansions and sharecroppers and everything in between as he not only defined Mississippi but also staked it out as his home fictional territory. His short stories were a surprise to me. All of them are very good; three of them, I believe, are great. Grisham has always had a rare gift for breaking hearts when he invokes unforgettable images of the broken, hopeless South. Some of the stories are hilarious, and Grisham’s gift of humor has never found a showcase like this. One of these stories should find its way into the anthologies of the best short stories of 2009. It might not happen, but I for one think the stories in Ford County are that damned good.--Pat Conroy
(Photo © David G. Spielman)
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
Until Grisham's `Playing for Pizza', I avoided his non-lawyer novels. Well, I ended up enjoying that one and I really enjoyed this one. Like I said earlier, John is a mesmerizing storyteller and, although these stories are not related in any way, they flow like they are.
My favorite story, by FAR, was `Fish Files'. (Think of the movie `Falling Down' without the violence and caffeine). Maybe it's because I wish for this sort of thing to happen to me or maybe because I love living vicariously through a story. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed reading about Mack because he didn't hesitate when opportunity kicked down his door. Be a good man... bah! Sticking with good southern values... whatever! Doing what your Sunday school teacher said... yeah ummm... I think I'll pass. I simply loved this story!!
`Casino' came a very, very close second. Each one of these seven stories creates a different feeling, gives birth to a unique memory, speaks to hidden emotions, and, in a small way, enriches the human spirit. His pop success made him famous, but it's his ability to grab and never let go that makes his books unforgettable. As a book lover/fanatic, I really enjoy authors' who have that ZING it takes to grab my attention and that indescribable POW that keeps me reading. This is a wonderful, classic, short story collection.
John Grisham to the rescue! His recently published collection of short stories, "FORD COUNTY", is one of the best books of 2009.
The book is composed of seven beautifully written tales from Grisham's roots in Mississippi. Each story is a gem! The mostly contemporary plots range from hilarity ("Blood Drive") to heartache ("Michael's Room"). By the end of the last selection ("Funny Boy"), the reader wishes there were seven more.
This is a great writer at his best, and one hopes that in the future Mr. Grisham will bring us more tales from Ford County. Get the book and enjoy every word. "Ford County" is superb!
Clanton, the town where Grisham's first blockbuster "A Time to Kill" takes place is now the setting for a number of unique characters, something a bit of an island of misfit toys. The book is a composite of seven stories- and yet, maybe because of the setting and the writing style, the stories flowed into one another and gave me a sense of a bigger picture than just a collection of individual stories.
I haven't felt terribly compelled by Grisham in recent years, yet, these stories are good- really good. They felt warm and comfortable. His writing style reminds me of pulling on a pair of well worn jeans. His characters are robust, real and sympathetic. The themes are common and even if one can't relate to all of the characters, you will find something for just about everyone here.
Some of the scenes are a little far-fetched and yet, I think it is the characters and the sense of humor with which Grisham write that makes me not just believe, but want to believe. You can almost hear the drawl of the South and the world slowing down as you get deeper into the stories.
Plenty of intrigue and, of course, what Grisham is so well-known for- writing about the law and those who exact it.Read more ›
It's within these character depictions that the author deftly... and almost intrinsically... is able to tug at the reader's heart and have tears begin to form one minute... then lightly chuckle as he quickly carves out ludicrous delineations that frame the lesser hanger-ons that dot society.
Within all these stories there seems at first to be numerous good versus evil scenario's... but at times... the evil and good can't be separated in such a black and white lens. A sampling (in random order) of some of Grisham's plots include rumors growing and changing... trips to a blood bank that starts off with the best of intentions and yet winds up in a bloody strip club brawl... a kidnapping of a lawyer who is forced to see the result of his defense work from the wretched side of the victim... a family trip to an execution...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great description of different types of people within the framework of a small Southern town. Skillful amalgam of humorous, tragic and compassionate stories.Published 10 days ago by Carlos Franzetti
Wonderful short stories. I took my time w/ it and read one story between other books I was reading because I wanted to make it last!Published 16 days ago by T. Stansmore
Grisham again captivates the reader with southern reality via fictionPublished 17 days ago by Gratk