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Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Ford County: Stories

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Ford County: Stories Description:

In his first collection of short stories John Grisham takes us back to Ford County, Mississippi, the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill.

Wheelchair-bound Inez Graney and her two older sons, Leon and Butch, take a bizarre road trip through the Mississippi Delta to visit the youngest Graney brother, Raymond, who’s been locked away on death row for eleven years. It could well be their last visit.

Mack Stafford, a hard-drinking and low-grossing run-of-the-mill divorce lawyer gets a miracle phone call with a completely unexpected offer to settle some old, forgotten cases for more money than he has ever seen. Mack is suddenly bored with the law, fed up with his wife and his life, and makes drastic plans to finally escape.

Quiet, dull Sidney, a data collector for an insurance company, perfects his blackjack skills in hopes of bringing down the casino empire of Clanton’s most ambitious hustler, Bobby Carl Leach, who, among other crimes, has stolen Sidney’s wife.

Three good ol’ boys from rural Ford County begin a journey to the big city of Memphis to give blood to a grievously injured friend. However, they are unable to drive past a beer store as the trip takes longer and longer. The journey comes to an abrupt end when they make a fateful stop at a Memphis strip club.

The Quiet Haven Retirement Home is the final stop for the elderly of Clanton. It’s a sad, languid place with little controversy, until Gilbert arrives. Posing as a lowly paid bedpan boy, he is in reality a brilliant stalker with an uncanny ability to sniff out the assets of those “seniors” he professes to love.

One of the hazards of litigating against people in a small town is that one day, long after the trial, you will probably come face-to-face with someone you’ve beaten in a lawsuit. Lawyer Stanley Wade bumps into an old adversary, a man with a long memory, and the encounter becomes a violent ordeal.

Clanton is rocked with the rumor that the gay son of a prominent family has finally come home, to die. Of AIDS. Fear permeates the town as gossip runs unabated. But in Lowtown, the colored section of Clanton, the young man finds a soul mate in his final days.

Featuring a cast of characters you’ll never forget, these stories bring Ford County to vivid and colorful life. Often hilarious, frequently moving, and always entertaining, this collection makes it abundantly clear why John Grisham is our most popular storyteller.

  • Amazon Sales Rank: #513 in Books
  • Published on: 2009-11-03
  • Released on: 2009-11-03
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • 320 pages


  • ISBN13: 9780385532457
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.

Customer Reviews:

In the grand storytelling tradition…5
John Grisham is a storyteller. For all the flack he takes for being a “pop” author, this man knows how to tell a tale. The only thing this book was missing was a rocking chair and a porch. These are stories that might have been told on a lazy Sunday evening while sitting on grandpa’s lap listening to the cicadas playing a tune composed by Mother Nature. These stories run the gambit from touching, to sinister, to the unthinkable, to heart-wrenching to, “yep that’s what you get”, to my favorite… the “illegal yes, but I’ll bet it felt so good”!
Until Grisham’s `Playing for Pizza’, I avoided his non-lawyer novels. Well, I ended up enjoying that one and I really enjoyed this one. Like I said earlier, John is a mesmerizing storyteller and, although these stories are not related in any way, they flow like they are.

My favorite story, by FAR, was `Fish Files’. (Think of the movie `Falling Down’ without the violence and caffeine). Maybe it’s because I wish for this sort of thing to happen to me or maybe because I love living vicariously through a story. Whatever the reason, I really enjoyed reading about Mack because he didn’t hesitate when opportunity kicked down his door. Be a good man… bah! Sticking with good southern values… whatever! Doing what your Sunday school teacher said… yeah ummm… I think I’ll pass. I simply loved this story!!

`Casino’ came a very, very close second. Each one of these seven stories creates a different feeling, gives birth to a unique memory, speaks to hidden emotions, and, in a small way, enriches the human spirit. His pop success made him famous, but it’s his ability to grab and never let go that makes his books unforgettable. As a book lover/fanatic, I really enjoy authors’ who have that ZING it takes to grab my attention and that indescribable POW that keeps me reading. This is a wonderful, classic, short story collection.

America’s greatest contribution to literary forms is the short story. Just refer to a strange looking gentleman named Poe. So why is it that so many prominent American writers today seem to have forgotten the short story?
John Grisham to the rescue! His recently published collection of short stories, “FORD COUNTY”, is one of the best books of 2009.
The book is composed of seven beautifully written tales from Grisham’s roots in Mississippi. Each story is a gem! The mostly contemporary plots range from hilarity (”Blood Drive”) to heartache (”Michael’s Room”). By the end of the last selection (”Funny Boy”), the reader wishes there were seven more.
This is a great writer at his best, and one hopes that in the future Mr. Grisham will bring us more tales from Ford County. Get the book and enjoy every word. “Ford County” is superb!


Grisham fans: Welcome back to Clanton!4
Wow! I was at the bookstore this morning to check out the new releases and this was on a display so I picked it up. You know those books that you pick up out of curiosity and then read a page or two? And then another couple pages? And pretty soon you are all the way through the first story? This is one of those. I had to buy it because I’d gotten engrossed in Raymond’s story, an inmate on death row who has written his memoir. I went home(the kids are sick today) and settled in with the book and started over from the beginning.

Clanton, the town where Grisham’s first blockbuster “A Time to Kill” takes place is now the setting for a number of unique characters, something a bit of an island of misfit toys. The book is a composite of seven stories- and yet, maybe because of the setting and the writing style, the stories flowed into one another and gave me a sense of a bigger picture than just a collection of individual stories.

I haven’t felt terribly compelled by Grisham in recent years, yet, these stories are good- really good. They felt warm and comfortable. His writing style reminds me of pulling on a pair of well worn jeans. His characters are robust, real and sympathetic. The themes are common and even if one can’t relate to all of the characters, you will find something for just about everyone here.

Some of the scenes are a little far-fetched and yet, I think it is the characters and the sense of humor with which Grisham write that makes me not just believe, but want to believe. You can almost hear the drawl of the South and the world slowing down as you get deeper into the stories.

Plenty of intrigue and, of course, what Grisham is so well-known for- writing about the law and those who exact it. I don’t think his usual legal thriller readers will be at all disappointed even if the pace is a bit slower- the writing is compelling enough to hold. A good collection in a somewhat neglected genre of short-storytelling, I recommend it wholly. I think it is some of his better work in recent history. Review
Amazon Exclusive: Pat Conroy Reviews Ford County

Pat Conroy is most recently the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller South of Broad, as well as eight previous books: The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, My Losing Season, and The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life. He lives on Fripp Island, South Carolina. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of Ford County:

In the mail last week, I received a copy of John Grisham’s latest fiction. It surprised me that the book was comprised of seven short stories. From the time I first began publishing at Doubleday, they have always made sure that I received a copy of a Grisham book long before it went on sale in the bookstores. He has written 22 books, and I’ve read them all as soon as they were available in crisp review copies.

I have loved the Grisham books for the same reason that I love the works of John Irving, Richard Russo, or Anne Rivers Siddons: I get hooked by an early page, and pure habit forces me to read until I am issued my walking papers and can return to my normal life. These writers are all wish-bringers who cast spells with the bright enchantment of their stories, and the power of story has retained its glamour and necessity for me. I’ve always liked it when Grisham took a sabbatical from his impressive fiction to romp in the field of sports or non-fiction.

John surprised me by entering the ring of danger that the short story represents for all writers. In the world of writing, the poets come first as they finger the language like worry beads and wonder where their next meal is coming from. The art of the short story writer is one of economy, concision, and the genius of trying to craft a whole world inside a mason jar. The modern world punishes the short story writer with inattention. The literary reviews keep the short story alive and finger-popping in America today, while the New Yorker tries to strangle the form with its bare hands. But a great short story is a source of joy, and the reading of Chekhov, de Maupassant, Flannery O’Connor and others offer pleasures unmatched by any other form. Since I’m incapable of writing the short story form, I wanted to see how Grisham fared, knowing the critics would sharpen their swords against him no matter how accomplished his stories might be.

Ford County is the best writing that John Grisham has ever done. One of the many things I’ve admired about his books is his intimate chronicle of Mississippi life in the generations following William Faulkner and Eudora Welty. Grisham writes equally well about the plantation south, the black south, and white-cracker south. Over the years he has used the legal system as an instrument to illuminate the world of mansions and sharecroppers and everything in between as he not only defined Mississippi but also staked it out as his home fictional territory. His short stories were a surprise to me. All of them are very good; three of them, I believe, are great. Grisham has always had a rare gift for breaking hearts when he invokes unforgettable images of the broken, hopeless South. Some of the stories are hilarious, and Grisham’s gift of humor has never found a showcase like this. One of these stories should find its way into the anthologies of the best short stories of 2009. It might not happen, but I for one think the stories in Ford County are that damned good.–Pat Conroy

(Photo © David G. Spielman)

From Publishers Weekly
Returning to the setting of his first novel, A Time to Kill, longtime bestseller Grisham presents seven short stories about the residents of Ford County, Miss. Each story explores different themes-mourning, revenge, justice, acceptance, evolution-but all flirt with the legal profession, the staple of (former attorney) Grisham’s oeuvre. Fans will be excited to settle back into Grisham’s world, and these easily digestible stories don’t disappoint, despite their brevity. Full of strong characters, simple but resonant plotlines, and charming Southern accents, this collection is solid throughout; though his literary aspirations may seem quaint, Grisham succeeds admirably in his crowd-pleasing craft while avoiding pat endings or oversimplifying (perhaps best exemplified in “Michael’s Room,” which finds a lawyer facing the consequences of successfully defending a doctor against a malpractice suit). As always, Grisham balances his lawyerly preoccupations with a deep respect for his undereducated and overlooked characters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The Washington Post
From The Washington Post’s Book World/ Reviewed by by Carolyn See “Ford County” is a collection of short stories by a man who has sold millions of copies of his legal thrillers in this country alone. John Grisham is still in the prime of his writing life, a devoted baseball fan, a devout Baptist who has done missionary work in Brazil, a rural Southerner who practiced law in a small Mississippi town for nearly a decade at the beginning of his literary career. He’s a writer whose paperbacks can be read without embarrassment by businessmen on airplanes, because his work tends to avoid sex or violence and to concentrate on puzzles alone. But because Grisham has always produced novels as plentifully as peanuts, because his second novel, “The Firm,” sold a bazillion copies, or maybe because he’s handsome, well-behaved and decorous, “real” writers (whoever they may be) have traditionally held him in low esteem, notwithstanding the fact that he has endowed numerous scholarships and been extremely active in promoting Southern regional literature. “Real” writers tend to be cranky where other people’s success is concerned. It must be true, mustn’t it, that Grisham can’t write his way out of a paper bag. Of course, he does have that weird, mesmerizing thing that keeps the reader turning pages, but there you go: Grisham writes mere page-turners! And so the “real” writers rest their collective case. “Ford County,” his first collection of short stories, provides one more reason to ignore those naysayers. Set in a small Mississippi town not unlike the one in which Grisham started practicing law, these seven stories seem so artless that the artlessness turns into an art. They’re terrifically charming, if only for this one thing: They start out at a beginning and march straight through to an end. They lack plot twists, literary surprises, authorial showing off. With one exception, they seem as real as real can be. They’re written about a world that is, indeed, foreign to most of us: the fictional Southern town of Clanton, population 10,000, a place with only 51 lawyers to its name. The little town is surrounded by rural enclaves, woods and farmland, acreage that shelters poor farmers but is also coveted by shady developers. The streets of Clanton are lined on one side with the mansions of old white landowners and on the other with the modest homes of African Americans who have lived there as long as the gouging landowners. It’s a microcosm of America — at least of those citizens who haven’t run off to the anonymity of big-city life and all the daydreams of urban success. The stories march sturdily along. I dare you to raise your head from “Blood Drive,” in which a man named Bailey is injured in a construction accident. Three young guys who barely know him pile into a truck with the poorly formed idea of donating blood. After too many beer stops and the dawning realization that they don’t even know what Memphis hospital he was taken to, their misfortunes pile up. In “Fetching Raymond,” two white-trash brothers who’ve lived “sad and chaotic lives” drive with their mother to a nearby prison where their brother is to be executed for murder. Raymond has used his time on death row to write bad novels, poems and endless letters; he’s studied “meditation, kung fu, aerobics, weight lifting, fasting.” He’s become a legend in his own mind, but the indifferent gas chamber awaits. And in “Fish Files,” a middle-aged lawyer whose wife and children scorn him happens upon a chance to make a substantial amount of ill-gotten money. How many married men have dreamed of disappearing off the face of the Earth, wiping their pasts clean away and spending the remainder of their lives sunning themselves on the beach? “Fish Files” may serve as their personal handbook. The remaining four stories carry their own quiet fascination. “Casino” follows the fortunes of a dull man who learns to count cards, loses, wins back his wife and makes a bundle along the way. “Funny Boy” is a sermon about being white and gay during the ’80s; “Michael’s Room” is a set piece about justice gone wrong; and “Quiet Haven” is a shamelessly sweet story about an ambiguously altruistic crook and a flock of forgotten senior citizens. There’s a lordly grandeur about refusing to copy-edit or revise here, which in the end turns out to be quite winning. Words are repeated carelessly all over the place; adverbs abound. My favorite sentence, attributed to the crook from “Quiet Haven” as he visits the Clanton courthouse to do some research, runs like this: “A lonely Confederate soldier in bronze stands atop a granite statue, gazing north, looking for the enemy.” Did some copy editor notice this, consider pointing it out to the novelist and then reconsider? Was Grisham just amusing himself, conjuring up the Cirque de Soleil on that quiet Southern lawn? In any event, those acrobatic sculptures cast a charmingly cozy light on the sober, ultra-realistic stories, stories that — no matter what your literary scruples — you absolutely can’t stop reading.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.