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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!
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 ›
I enjoyed the humorous "Blood Drive" that features three Ford County lads that embark on a trip to Memphis to donate blood. They allow themselves to get distracted a few times between home and the big city with hilarious results.
There is nothing funny about "Funny Boy," a story featuring an AIDS victim that returns to his boyhood home in the south for his final days. This story about prejudice and fear is ready-made for a weepy Movie of the Week.
All of the stories are easy to read, but none of them are exceptional. None of the tales are page-turners, but they do make for an afternoon of enjoyable, light reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Grisham is very talented. Although the stories are varied and unrelated he manages to impart a feeling of one being a resident in Ford county in the time period A quick readPublished 1 day ago by sandy g
Excellent assortment of entertainment as only Grisham can provide!Published 5 days ago by Linda E. Eaton
Kinda dark and predictable. Love Grisham but this was a waste.Published 11 days ago by Jeffrey Mohn
There's something about Grisham books I really like. I'm sure there are others who are looking for something deeper and more though-provoking, but for sheer entertainment, he's... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Ladd101
Like all Grisham's work, excellent; so much better written than the other guys who struggle in his wake.Published 12 days ago by Pat Farish
Each one of these stories grabs you and will not let you go. These characters are so credible and so interesting!Published 15 days ago by paulacan1
Not his best stuff. I don't care for the short story format. For me it was just going from one grim thing to another.Published 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
Not only a great collection of stories all set in Ford County, it is also a showcase of human follies, and in as few words as possible, I'll describe each one of them:... Read morePublished 26 days ago by NenetteU
This is probably one of the funniest books I've ever read. Wish John Grisham would consider a Ford County Stories Volume 2!!Published 27 days ago by Barbara C