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Ford County: Stories Hardcover – November 3, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 1,047 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: Pat Conroy Reviews Ford County

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

Returning to the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill, longtime bestseller Grisham presents seven short stories about the residents of Ford County, Miss. Each story explores different themes-mourning, revenge, justice, acceptance, evolution-but all flirt with the legal profession, the staple of (former attorney) Grisham's oeuvre. Fans will be excited to settle back into Grisham's world, and these easily digestible stories don't disappoint, despite their brevity. Full of strong characters, simple but resonant plotlines, and charming Southern accents, this collection is solid throughout; though his literary aspirations may seem quaint, Grisham succeeds admirably in his crowd-pleasing craft while avoiding pat endings or oversimplifying (perhaps best exemplified in "Michael's Room," which finds a lawyer facing the consequences of successfully defending a doctor against a malpractice suit). As always, Grisham balances his lawyerly preoccupations with a deep respect for his undereducated and overlooked characters.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (November 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385532458
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385532457
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,047 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jason Frost VINE VOICE on November 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Grisham is a storyteller. For all the flack he takes for being a "pop" author, this man knows how to tell a tale. The only thing this book was missing was a rocking chair and a porch. These are stories that might have been told on a lazy Sunday evening while sitting on grandpa's lap listening to the cicadas playing a tune composed by Mother Nature. These stories run the gambit from touching, to sinister, to the unthinkable, to heart-wrenching to, "yep that's what you get", to my favorite... the "illegal yes, but I'll bet it felt so good"!
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.
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Format: Hardcover
America's greatest contribution to literary forms is the short story. Just refer to a strange looking gentleman named Poe. So why is it that so many prominent American writers today seem to have forgotten the short story?
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!

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book contains seven new short stories by the legendary John Grisham. All are built around Ford County Mississippi where the novel that launched his career "TIME TO KILL" was set. While Grisham's recent novels have been met with mixed emotions... I found these seven stories interestingly mesmerizing. As a reviewer it's a little tougher to give potential readers an overview of short stories as compared to a full Grisham novel because the reviewer has to be more careful not to give away key spoilers... which in a short story is very easy to do. What I found compelling was the ability of the author... even with the limited pages for each of the stories... to create quick... detailed... enthralling character studies... seemingly with the "flick" of his wrist... despite not having his normal availability of a full book's canvas in which to paint his characters nuances.

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...
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Format: Hardcover
FORD COUNTY is just "okay." Two of the stories stood out more than the others for me.

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.
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