Mar 312008
 

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.

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 Posted by at 9:43 pm

  5 Responses to “Grisham, and an all-in-one-room Dark and Stormy broadcast”

  1. A Time to Kill was fantastic. The rest have all been kind of meh.

    Come on over today to:

    “Get your sexy on
    Go ahead, be gone with it.”

  2. […] forward to just as much.  And, since Mrs. Chili is going to be in our little neck of the woods, we are welcoming her over to do the broadcast of the next Dark and Stormy selection from my house.  […]

  3. I wasn’t thrilled with this one, either – more on my disappointment about that later – but it certainly HAS given me fodder for thought about the structures of power and those who operate within them…

    I can’t WAIT to see you! Tick, tick, tick – three days to go!!

  4. I don’t want to pile on John Grisham, or read him. I will say this: it is rare that I read a work of fiction which just delights me with language. Plot? Well, good writing, to me, makes it almost irrelevant. I have seen the phrase “character is plot” often enough, but I guess I’d modify it to “language is plot.” I still get pleasure out of reading fiction, but . . .

    I refer anyone who wants to know what I mean to Charles Dickens.

  5. I feel as though I sound like your high school literature teacher, mentioning only Mr. Dickens. I could also refer you to some modern works, but not the ones you might think.

    “The Milagro Beanfield War” comes to mind (mrschili, if you read this, I know it should be italic, but I am a dud at HTML). Hunter Thompson at his best works for me too.

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