Consider me late to the “Grisham party.” As a literary snob, at one time, I avoided his books because they were too popular. Last book I bought, the store — Costco — had a marketing pallet of the novels. Open the box and it was an instant display, with about a bazillion copies, and thankfully, at Costco, cheap.
That was a good book, too, tight, gripping, fun. When book-lovers are featured as key characters, always that little extra literary titlation.
“People were classified, and often judged, by their denomination. And they were certainly condemned if they didn’t claim one. Liza joined the Methodist church and became an active member. What else was there to do in Clanton?” Page 178.
Without any of the confounded sordidness, and twisted convulsions otherwise employed, trying to not make a comparisons to the great Southern writer Faulkner can’t be accomplished, but he did have a way of taking too much space to convey nuanced and shaded meanings in the prose.
Southern gothic, to which, in part, I am heir.
But it’s not Faulkner, and there is none of the too convoluted and concussed narrative forms that can — didn’t Faulkner have a sentence and paragraph that stretched for three pages?
After a spell, or under the spell, Grisham’s writing is more concise, and while it pays homage to Faulkner, with the aforementioned Southern Gothic as a piece, that’s not the whole story.
Halfway through, I’m wondering is this parable for modern times?
In part, too, the book kept making me think about a Norman Mailer novel, an early one, The Naked and the Dead — horrible truth about an ugly war.
Certain feelings echoed back from that earlier novel with no real recollection.
As an author, Grisham has expected deft touch with word-smithing. The pacing was right, though, and it read like a thriller.
“Perhaps Mr. Faulkner had heard the story. Perhaps he would use it in a novel.” Page 332.
Post modern noir, with a touch of gore?
Perhaps Mr. Faulkner wasn’t so far off.