JB- Ford County is John Grisham’s attempt at writing a collection of short stories. I say attempt because unlike most short stores–which tend to separate themselves by using unconventional structure or tackle weird issues–Grisham’s stories are fully realized micro-novels only separated from his other works by their length. They could easily work as chapters in his novels.
That isn’t to say Ford County Stories isn’t just as enjoyable as the rest of his work, it totally is. The stories are a little weirder but to be fair, Grisham has been reaching for more interesting and odd topics in his more recent works.
The first story has three county boys driving to Memphis to give blood to a friend in the hospital but wind up needing blood themselves. In another an attorney is kidnapped by a disgruntled plaintiff. The stories are highly enjoyable, though closer to not-fully realized books than short stories–a novelist’s B-sides.
For someone who has never read Grisham before and is wondering if they would like him, this collection works as a pretty great sample platter. It’s also just a fun summer read or a nice audiobook for a long trip since it has different stories to follow instead of the same long narrative.
A lot of times when I have a Grisham in my hands and an especially smart friend around I’ll get a little flack for reading his formula-fiction but as an aspiring fiction writer, sometimes I have to follow a Franzen with a Grisham as to not get disenfranchised. And the thing I like about Grisham is that he never claims to be some great literary powerhouse, just a good novelist who is a pretty great storyteller. He also supports aspiring literary powerhouses in their efforts to fully realize their aspirations.
Check out Grisham, as of reading this book I’ve read all of his writing and it’s highly entertaining. Few writers have me really living inside their world the way Grisham does (and that may be because I live and work in the communities he writes about so I literally know his characters).
April- I chose this audiobook when I finally signed up for a library card, to try and impress JB with my first try of John Grisham. Although I never finished (due to car-calepsy and past-due fees), I loved all of the short stories I had the opportunity to listen to. There’s so many intricacies and secrets about Mississippi that I have yet to learn, and loved this intimate look into a typical small town. I could relate each character (loosely) to someone here in Tupelo, and know that Grisham’s descriptions and plot lines were realistic, not some Yankee author who stretches the truth. Each story stood on it’s own, but the different perspectives painted a detailed picture of the county that brought me in to each view. I loved that Grisham did the reading, and getting to hear all the idiosyncracies that he meant for each character. A great first experience with John, and I hope it’s not my last