John Grisham and I don’t get along very well.
I read and enjoyed A Time to Kill, The Firm, and The Pelican Brief, solely on the strength of their respective stories. Then I read another one about the tobacco industry that I found crushingly mediocre, and that was it for Mr. Grisham and me until Mrs. Chili selected The Innocent Man as the current Dark and Stormy Book Club title.
Mind, my less-than-favorable opinion of Grisham was no reason to lobby for something else when Mrs. Chili made the selection, and I didn’t. For one thing, Dark and Stormy is about exploration, and I’m always intrigued by what may lie on the next cerebral block—even if it’s a street corner that looks familiar to me (or so I think). For another, this title is nonfiction, and I was interested to see whether and to what degree that changed my opinion.
I still have some pages go between now and Saturday, but I feel safe in saying I still don’t like John Grisham very much. He clearly has a gift for plot, whether invented or selected, but I find his delivery relentlessly joyless. The best story in the world is ultimately unsatisfying when told so flatly. I feel like I’m reading the product of one of the novel-writing machines in Winston Smith’s Oceania.
I don’t necessarily mean flair and flourish. Often there is beauty in economy. I just don’t ever detect the slightest implicit acknowledgment that he’s using a rich and amazing language. The inspired idea trapped in lackluster execution is like having Little Debbie for dessert at every meal, or like building a perfectly cubic house with eight identical cubic rooms.
But I’ll stop there. We do have a broadcast to do.
Speaking of, we’ve got a special show this Saturday. Mrs. Chili is coming to visit Saintseester and me! Yes, all three of your irrepressible hosts will be in one room for this broadcast, for which we will find time in and around much merrymaking. Please join us this Saturday, April 5, at 10 am CDT / 11 am EDT for what is sure to be a fine and memorable entry in the annals of the Dark and Stormy Book Club.