As I first picked up this book I thought to myself that I had read a lot of John Grisham books over the years, but wasn\’t aware that he wrote short stories. He hadn\’t. This collection of seven short stories titled Ford County Stories is his first foray into this challenging genre. And, although I am not usually a big fan of short stories, these ones by John Grisham were certainly enjoyable.
Set in the fictional town of Clanton, Mississippi, the seven stories are unrelated but because they all take place in or around the same town they give you a broader sense of a whole community as you read through them.Â The stories are certainly not feel-good or even uplifting tales â€“ they are at times heartbreaking, sometimes make you cringe and in some cases make you want to cry. They include stories of families making final visits to children and siblings on death row; excluded sons brought home to die of AIDS in shame; and downtrodden lawyers finally given a chance to escape their lives.
The challenge for me in reading short stories is that sometimes I don\’t feel like I\’ve been given enough detail â€“ the ending has occurred too abruptly, or the characters not fleshed out enough. But sometimes, as is the case in these stories, just the hint of who the character is and what they aspire to is enough. Like Miss Emporia in the story titled â€˜Funny Boy\’ â€“ probably my favourite character in the whole book, but still a mystery right to the end. Grisham manages to tell you the whole story in around 40-50 pages each time, and you still feel as though you\’ve been taken on a journey with the characters. I certainly didn\’t feel cheated.
Overall, I found Ford County Stories to be a nice departure from my usual choice of book. And they weren\’t too dissimilar to what you would expect from a John Grisham novel â€“ although not legal thrillers, all of the stories contained some sort of legal context. And so, once again my foray into a style of writing removed from what I would normally choose to read has been a success â€“ I would recommend this collection of short stories to anyone who loves a good yarn!
Available now: Random House RRP$49.95