Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ford County: Stories

Ford County: Stories
© 2009 John Grisham
320 pages

I was delighted to receive John Grisham’s Ford County: Stories for Christmas. I’ve been a Grisham reader since reading a battered paperback copy of The Firm years ago, and many of my favorite works (The Summons and The Last Juror, to name a couple) of his are set in fictional Ford County, Mississippi. Grisham has returned to Ford County and its county seat of Clanton for a novel approach -- a book that is not a novel. Ford County is a collection of seven short stories, most of which are written in the third-person. Grisham’s intent with this book was to spotlight some of the more varied characters in Ford County, and there are many. There are a few lawyers inside -- Grisham is known for his legal thrillers -- but the law is not a dominant theme in the book.

None of the stories failed to delight me, and the variety is genuine. Some are silly, some are serious, and most contain the mild level of author commentary typical of Grisham. He develops a new host of characters, bringing back only one character (Harry Rex Vonner) from his previous Ford County stories.This collection should please Grisham fans, particularly those who enjoy short stories and who have not been too discouraged by The Appeal or The Associate, both of which Ford County betters. I suspect it will become one of my Grisham favorites, alongside The Last Juror and The Rainmaker. Here's a preview of three of Ford County's stories:

  • "Casino": After his wife leaves him, Sidney becomes an inadvertent professional gambler and gets revenge on the man who his wife left him for by breaking the man's casino. 
  • "Blood Drive":  Three good ol’ boys pile into a pickup truck intending to drive to Memphis to give a fellow Ford County man blood. Hilarity begins ensuing when they drive past a liquor store. The result sounds like a perfect “This one time, we got so wasted….” story. 
  • "Funny Boy":  one of Ford County’s outcast sons comes home to die of AIDs. Rejected by his family, he’s taken care of in his final days by an older black woman who finds his lifestyle suspicious but learns to care for him. This one of the more heartwarming stories in the collection. 

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