Thursday, March 25, 2010

157 (2010 #22). Ford County: Short Stories

written and read by John Grisham

This is a collection of seven short stories, all set in fictional Ford County, Mississippi. Most of the stories are funny; some are a little sad.

The audiobook starts out with "Fetching Raymond," about two brothers who take their wheelchair-bound mother to see her third son, Raymond, on his final day on Death Row.

"Fish Files" tells the tale of a small town lawyer who suddenly has a chance to escape his boring life and make big money on some long-forgotten "fish file" (because when they're that old, they smell like dead fish) cases. This was probably my favorite story, as it ended very differently than I expected.

"Casino," about a man who learns the complexities of gambling in order to mend his broken heart and gain revenge, was another favorite. "Blood Drive" was quite amusing, about three men heading to Memphis to donate blood for an injured friend, who encounter a number of distractions along the way!

"Quiet Haven" is about a con artist working in an retirement home. On the other hand, he brings joy to a resident in his last days, and I really liked this story even though I knew the con man was up to no good.

The last two stories were the most serious and thought-provoking. "Michael's Room" describes a lawyer forced at gunpoint to see the results of his legal maneuvering where he was able to deny a family with a disabled son the compensation they needed and deserved. The ending was rather surprising; again not what I expected.

The final story is "Funny Boy," set in the late 1980s in Clanton, the fictional county seat. A gay man with AIDS from a prominent family returns to die, living in the home of an elderly black lady on the wrong side of town. She was bribed by his family to care for him with the offer of full ownership of her rented home. This story has a lot to say about prejudice against blacks and homosexuals in Southern small towns, and the lack of knowledge about AIDS in the 1980s. Despite the title, this story was sad.

I generally avoid books by popular, prolific authors like Grisham, because they can be so formulaic, but this book was excellent. Grisham has said that these were mostly stories that would not have developed into full length novels, but I am glad they didn't. I would be happy to read more short stories by Grisham.

The audiobook was read by the author. Grisham's delivery is choppy, but it works well with these characters and settings and stories.

[This audiobook was borrowed from my university library, and goes back tomorrow.]

© Amanda Pape - 2010


  1. I use to LOVE Grisham, but then I got tired of him. This sounds like a great way to try him again.

  2. Thanks Tracy. I'm hoping someone in my book club gives me a copy of the book after our meeting on April 20. If so, I'll let you read it before I donate it to the library!

  3. I was pleasantly surprised by A Painted House, and these stories sound like rather like that. I think Grisham is a much better writer than he gets credit for. Maybe he's so popular (and rich) that some of it is backlash.