Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review of Calico Joe

Book #2: Calico Joe, by John Grisham. Unabridged audio. 

This is the second time that John Grisham has departed from his legal thrillers to tell a sports story. I personally enjoyed Playing For Pizza, and was looking forward to reading this one.

This one tells two stories, in various time lines. In the past, we follow the exploits of a young slugger, breaking every slugging record in baseball history. At the same time in the past, we see the son of a journeyman major league pitcher struggle with his father’s abusive behavior and bouts of anger.

These storylines come to a dramatic head, and we jump into the present. The father is dying of cancer, and the son hasn’t seen him for years. But he attempts to bring closure and reconciliation between the dying man and the slugger, whose career the father ended with an intentional beanball.

The phrase “write what you know” is common advice, but I think it’s better to say it as “don’t write what you don’t know.” Grisham knows the law and knows how law firms operate, and so writes that type of very well. He also knows sports well enough to write them in a compelling and believable manner. His descriptions of baseball games, and stadiums, and fans, are all right on target.

This is a short novel, a small story of forgiveness and reconciliation. This theme manifests in the stories of the pitcher and the slugger, and also between father and son. It’s an enjoyable read, nice change of pace in Grisham’s overall bibliography.

Source: public library

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