John Grisham: A Critical Companion

John Grisham: A Critical Companion

John Grisham: A Critical Companion

John Grisham: A Critical Companion

Synopsis

With his seven legal thrillers, all published since 1989, John Grisham has won a huge following of readers and set a standard few contributors to the genre can match. Because of the success of his novels, the legal thriller is the most popular genre in American fiction today. In this study, Pringle explains how Grisham's legal thriller evolved from the thriller tradition and borrowed from the heroic romance novel, gothic novel, crime novel, and detective fiction. She shows how his novels examine contemporary social and legal problems that do not have simple solutions--ecology, ethnic relations, capital punishment, corporate greed, and health insurance--and how he depicts both the legal system and lawyers in their best and worst lights.

Excerpt

Born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, in 1955, John Grisham has deep southern roots—so deep in fact that he and President Bill Clinton are distant cousins. Grisham’s father earned his living as a construction worker during Grisham’s early years. The family, including the future writer’s mother, four siblings, and himself, traveled throughout the South wherever the father could find work. Although they were poor, the children seemed not to know it because, as Grisham says, he and his brothers and sisters ‘‘were well fed and loved and scrubbed’’ (Hubbard 44). Every town the family settled in, they immediately stopped at the local library where each family member got a new library card and checked out a stack of books. On Sundays they attended the local Baptist church.

At age 12, Grisham and his family settled in Southaven, Mississippi. There he developed into a good student. His eighth-grade teacher saw something special in him, but not necessarily an eager writer (Mathews 80). Most of his energies were channeled into baseball. Although in high school he showed a surprising fondness for John Steinbeck’s novels, he says he never cared much for writing. In college he claims not to have taken a course in composition or creative writing, but he acknowledges having earned a ‘‘D’’ in freshman English (Street 33). Following high school Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University (where he majored in accounting), and then he attended law school at the University of Mississippi. At first he planned to become a tax attorney, with

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