Monday, March 22, 2010

in defence of John Grisham

there exists in this world a most curious type of "critic". they tend to be exceptionally elitist, patronizing and on the whole exceptionally pompus and full of themselves. they hate the idea of being seen in any way endorsing or applauding anything that's "popular" or sells well, instead apparently needing to show how clever they believe they are by only celebrating the obscure, complicated and seldom seen works of art. this is seldom more obvious that in the world of book reviews.

i grow very tired, for instance, of people who do things like comment on the film The Hurt Locker as though they have seen and understood it and yet discuss a film set in Afghanistan and write pretentious articles to impress their chums containing lines like "oh, i only bought the new Dan Brown to see if he has worked out how to write yet.". the mind boggles, then, as to why people who are so anti-popular tend to force their views on the popular world at large through the media. maybe it's a comfort thing.

i have more degrees in literature than is usually considered enough, but i really don't need to wave them about unless it is in jest. the likes of Dan Brown, John Grisham, Jilly Cooper, Tom Clancy and any other writer that has sold millions that you care to name keep the majority wildly entertained with their usually addictive novels. so what if they don't reconstruct some sort of metaphysical, post-modernist ideals of the human condition? is it such a crime to entertain and be entertained? methinks not.

the above, granted, might be a bit of an excessive introduction to say how much i have enjoyed the latest John Grisham paperback, The Associate, but i am sure you will forgive the dig at those types mentioned above that just can't bring themselves to enjoy a damned good book.

it's been over a year since the hardback appeared of The Associate, but i would imagine the majority of John Grisham readers are like me and just wait for the paperback edition to read in bed, on a plane, train or anywhere else. i am delighted to say that this book sits very nicely indeed in the top half of the 20 or so books Mr Grisham has written, and marks something of a return to form.

whereas the novel before this (i think), The Appeal, was pretty good, before that one he had published two right clangers. The Last Juror should have been a rollicking tale of revenge against the members of a jury but instead spent considerable time discussing the relative merits of the many fine churches of Mississippi. It was The Broker, however, that nearly made me quit John Grisham books. what should have been an ace tale of intrigue and espionage between lawyers and the government instead turned into page after page of how Italians eat pasta and when they drink coffee.

The Associate escapes the trappings of superfluous details that dominated the last two books mentioned above and gets right into the action, thankfully. i wouldn't wish to spoil any of the plot, but the book is basically about a soon-to-be qualified lawyer who is blackmailed into working for a law firm that's handling one of the biggest cases in legal history. the rest i will let you find out, not long after you start reading it really.

it's an addictive, enjoyable read, as a few late nights from my side can testify to. if you, like me, have felt somewhat let down by the last couple of books you have read by Grisham, pick this up without hesitation - he's back to what he does best.

and you should really read the book before the film version hits. Grisham has refused to sell the film rights for his last few books, so i was surprised to see him sell the rights for this one. in particular as the considerably unpopular yet oddly big money making Shia LaBeouf has been cast in the lead. LaBeouf is the reason the last Indiana Jones film will never be considered as great as the original three, and rumours abound that it's his "acting" display that has led to Wall Street 2 being delayed for a few months to allow some furious re-editing. the protagonist of The Associate, Kyle, isn't the most likable of characters, but he doesn't deserve the LaBeouf interpretation.

when Martin Scorsese, in the days before The Departed, was asked about if he was frustrated at never winning the Oscar, he gave a wonderful answer. "movie making is not about awards", he stated, "it's about making money. every film you make has to make enough money to let you make the next one.". i would imagine a similar approach is true of John Grisham. as nice as it would be to impress those la-dee-da darlings i mentioned at the start, it's no match for writing stories that entertain you and many millions of readers. and long may he continue to do so!

happy reading!!!!!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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