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Ford County Paperback – 27 May 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (27 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099545780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099545781
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, he was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi, law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel.

Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.

One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.

That might have put an end to Grisham's hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career--and spark one of publishing's greatest success stories. The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a hotshot young attorney lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.

The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller.

Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, The Appeal, and The Associate) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 250 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man. The Innocent Man (October 2006) marked his first foray into non-fiction, and Ford County (November 2009) was his first short story collection.

Grisham lives with his wife Renee and their two children Ty and Shea. The family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, VA.

Grisham took time off from writing for several months in 1996 to return, after a five-year hiatus, to the courtroom. He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer: representing the family of a railroad brakeman killed when he was pinned between two cars. Preparing his case with the same passion and dedication as his books' protagonists, Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500--the biggest verdict of his career.

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including most recently his Rebuild The Coast Fund, which raised 8.8 million dollars for Gulf Coast relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ballfields he built on his property have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Product Description

Amazon Review

When you are as securely at the top of the publishing tree (as John Grisham is), the temptation to simply relax and coast must be ever-present. But canny authors know that such laxity is not advisable if you don’t want your fan base to haemorrhage. And it’s clear that John Grisham – despite a few missteps recently (such as the period when he ill-advisedly let his born-again Christianity seep through into his novels), has tried to keep his writing fresh and vital. Ford County represents Grisham’s first foray into a form he has not tackled before, the short story, and it’s a challenging task (with the ghosts of such great American short story writers as F Scott Fitzgerald ever-hovering over the shoulder of any writer who attempts the form). But the range of subjects and characters tackled here is ambitious. The unexciting Sidney, an insurance company data collector, finesses his abilities at blackjack to take on the star player of a casino empire; the invalid Inez Graney and her two sons undertake a daunting odyssey to meet a relative who has been on death row for eleven years; three Ford County rednecks set out to give blood to an injured friend, but wind up in a Memphis strip joint. As these three stories (from a total of seven) suggest, John Grisham is clearly eager to spread his wings as a writer, and deal with more quirky areas of characterisation than he has tackled before. Some readers may wish that he had stayed in his familiar legal thriller territory, but real Grisham admirers will welcome this ambitious move. As in any short story collection, some entries are more successful than others, but everything here demonstrates solid accomplishment. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Ford County is the best writing John Grisham has ever done."--Pat Conroy "John Grisham is about as good a storyteller as we've got.""--The New York Times Book Review " --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Kevan James on 9 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a huge follower of John Grisham's novels (I enjoyed the first few but haven't read any since "The Client") but always enjoyed his depictions of the southern states of America, so a series of stories set in Ford County appealed to me.

What was pretty much an impulse purchase (based partly on the colourful cover!) is possibly the best book I've read this year! 7 short stories linked by location, featuring lots of black humour, some wonderfully drawn characters, and some of the most heart rending writing I've read in years.

Marvellous stuff - I can't recommend it highly enough.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Bad Bear on 13 Nov. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Not a novel, but a series of short stories set in and around Mississippi's fictional Ford County. A few of them concern the misadventures of small-town lawyers, but overall John Grisham presents a greater diversity of characters and situations than in any of his previous works. His writing style is as compelling as ever, and the pages turn quickly, though not all the stories have a twist in the tail. A good read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Danute Cekauskas, LCSW on 9 May 2012
Format: Paperback
After finishing this book, I can honestly say that the last few reviews about it do not give it much credit and that is a real shame. This is a great book of short stories deserving only the highest praise not the petty criticism I have been reading about it. It was written with great depth and intensity. It evokes the deepest of emotions. I have a really hard time understanding why the last reviews have been so negative.

I am not generally someone who likes reading short stories but these,by no means, are ordinary short stories. There are seven of them in total and they are about the mostly poor people of a small town in Mississippi. True, they are generally not very happy stories. They are like a series of Greek tragedies about the harshness of life experienced by poor, uneducated southern people from broken families with drug and alcohol problems. The last story "Funny Boy" had to be the saddest of all. It brought tears to my eyes thinking about how good "Christian" people treated one of their townspeople who had come home to die from AIDS. They did not even see fit to treat this poor soul or his caregiver as human beings deserving of love and respect. During this time of Lent, in preparation of the Easter season, I cannot help but think of the lepers that Jesus Christ himself ministered to. They were like the HIV positive individuals of that day. Like the song "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me." John Grisham powerfully reached in and touched me with this final story--not that the previous six stories were any less masterfully written.

No,this is not a collection of happy stories. What I can say about them, however, is that they are REAL about REAL people and can grip you in ways that you wouldn't think possible.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Blackbeard on 7 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
It has been a long time since I've read a John Grisham book. I read all of his earlier books back in the day, without realizing at the time that they were all of his first books, and I remember liking them, but my tastes have changed quite a bit since then. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this book of short stories, as it was immediately obvious that he still has talent as a writer. I liked the first story the best by far, and even though I wouldn't say that things went downhill from there, none of the other ones interested me quite as much, and there was also less humour than in the first. I can't think of any particular reason why anyone wouldn't like this, so why not give it a try?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pip Thomson on 28 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
As an avid fan of the current mega writers (Coben, Deaver, Cornwell etc) I was a little surprised to see this book - made up of 7 short stories all based around Ford County. Opening the book to read the first story in a free half hour I thought I had, was hooked immediately (to the point the sun had gone down by the time I came up for air). Excellently written, perfectly 'linked', just enough characterisation (in a short story, often hard to achieve) to ensure credibility, the stories each trip along very well. Not the top class feature length novel, but definitely worth finding time for.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By P. D. Walker on 11 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have read every JG book ever published and most are very good, some are not so good. This one, however, is probably the best of his I have ever read. The stories all leave you wanting more and wishing they were novels in their own right. The last story had such a powerful ending, even I nearly shed a tear. Fantastic book, I cannot recommend it enough
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robin Hood on 5 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A great read could not put it down Im not one normally for short stories ,however these are gripping.
This is Grisham at his best. Fantastic can well recomend.
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Format: Hardcover
The short story form seems to have long fallen from the mass market - as opposed to some notable `literary' examples. Publishers generally seem to have lost confidence that this is a format which can attract the big sales. I hope this volume will promote a rethink. Grisham is to be commended for this extension to his storytelling repertoire. Of course, any book bearing the `brand' John Grisham is going to sell well. With `Ford County' Grisham delivers an entertaining and varied selection of tales, all based in the Deep South.

Seven short stories, each of about 45 pages, portray disparate characters and situations, the only common link being the location. Scenes are set, seemingly effortlessly, as is characteristic of Grisham. In this book, legal aspects are incidental rather than central to most of the stories.

I felt the first two stories (`Blood Drive' and `Fetching Raymond'), which both involve a road journey, were very good, but at times tediously rendered - characters getting in and out of vehicles, opening cans of beer, etc. - giving a padded feel. However, the other five stories all have excellent pace and much more engaging characters.

In some stories (particularly `Casino' and `Funny Boy') there are lovely narrative twists, but the stories eschew striving for a `sting in the tail' effect.

Grisham is not a sentimental writer, and for the most part, it is the storytelling rather than the characters that appeal to me in his novels. The same could be said here, yet with `Michael's Room' Grisham demonstrates the strong emotional power of his descriptive prose.

I would have given 4.5 stars overall, but, given the options provided by the review system, 5 stars is a fairer reflection than 4 stars would be of my enjoyment.
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