on 17 September 2003
After a somewhat return to form with his last book (King of Torts).John Grisham returns with another book less than a year unfortunatly this is no legal page-turner but a story of a returning high school football hero attending his old coach's funeral.
Neely Crenshaw is the former all star quarter-back who has issues about returning ti his old high school,but once he meets up with his old buddies they start to re-live their former glories.This is were we start to find out about coach Eddie Rake's methods of training the football team, and also about the legacy he has left not just on the field but also in the town of Messina.
Bleachers is only a short story and won't take very long to read(a couple of hours) but it does have some good emotional moments which will have you reaching for your handkerchiefs.
A good stop gap till Mr Grisham gives us his next legal caper.
on 18 December 2004
The title speaks of the fact that when 'A Painted House' came out, people were quick to bring the sword down just because it was a departure from his usual subjects. But thankfully people bought the book. When Grisham leaves his home territory of the legal thriller people think he is out of his depth. I am delighted to say that as with his first attempt, 'Bleachers' emphasizes that he has a wider palate than the legal thriller.
It will probably be of more interest to a sports fan (5 stars if an American football fan) but it is the spirit of the book that captures the reader. The effect one man has on many people, with the eulogies at the funeral being the pinnacle of emotion. The stories, dialogue, actions and reactions wash the reader into the story at a pace that doesn't rush anyone.
The only minor issue is the presence of Tim Nunley from'A Time to Kill'- wasn't he killed by the Klan? This is minor and only for people like me who remember pointless details.
An excellent read, a rarity with much emotion driven by a relatively short number of pages.
on 17 January 2005
Sometime last year, I read The Runaway Jury. I was hooked almost immediately and ended up buying all his books (except this, Skipping Christmas and A Painted House) on-line. I read every single one, enjoying some (The Firm, The Runaway Jury) more than others (The Partner, The Pelican Brief).
A few months ago, after forgetting about John Grisham for a while, I bought The Last Juror which reawakened my love of his books. Inevitably, I bought Bleachers, thinking that I would enjoy it despite the bad reviews from the non-Americans. They can't be die hard Grisham fans like myself, I thought.
I have to apologise to those who warned me - this book is just as pointless and impenetrable as I heard. The main character returns to his home town, after a fifteen year absence, to wait for his old high school football coach to die. The coach, it seems, has touched the lives of many men, a large proportion of whom meet up at the football field and sit in the bleachers, waiting for the inevitable.
What John Grisham is trying to do is well beyond that which can be achieved in such a short story. Neely, the main character, has very little to recommend him. He's just not been developed enough - we get little snatches of his life, his friends, his past loves but there's very little emotion evoked. I know that in a book about American football I shouldn't expect the characters to share their feelings at the drop of a hat but I did expect a wider range of emotions on Neely's part.
What we see is a town in mourning. The men that Neely commanded on the field seem shell shocked to a degree that doesn't fit in with the story.
Also, the plot is very weak. Nothing happens in this book to keep you turning the pages. There is a bit of suspence as to what happened between Neely and the coach during half time at one game in particular - a game we are given the full (!) commentary on.
If, like me, you have no idea about American Football, the commentary (which takes up several pages, mixed in with reactions from those listening) will test your patience. We know Neely was a great football player - we don't need the jargon.
All in all, I had to read it to believe it. Don't worry, though. If, like me, you just have to buy this to complete your Grisham collection, you won't spend too long reading it.
on 5 October 2003
I am a huge fan of John Grisham's early works, so when I heard that Bleachers was being published, I was really excited and pre-ordered the book straight away.
Bleachers is a short tale about the lives of american football players who have been touched by their coach, even after his pupils stop playing the game. Most of the plot is centred around Neely, the infamous All-American player who left his home town after a sporting injury, and only returning 15 years later to pay homage to his coach, who lays on his deathbed. Neely relives the character of the coach through meeting with former players and team mates on the bleachers of the playing fields, and we discover just how much the coach is admired - and hated - through his passion and dedication to the sport.
Half way through the novel, the old team of '87 meet and relive an historical game, that turns out to be the focal point of Neely's & the coach's careers. These 30 pages are a bizarre distraction to the natural discourse of the book, set out like a play with a commentary of the match intertwined. A clever piece of writing, but it made the book seem very disjointed.
The meagre 160+ pages only took me an evening to read. Even only a short way into the book, I did not believe that Bleachers was written by the same man who wrote the hits such as A Time To Kill, and The Firm. Bleachers is a 'nice' enough tale, but I feel it lacks any substance and the desire to turn the next page. I would not recommend Bleachers to someone who is expecting the next great legal crime novel - certainly not one that will be made into a film. If you are passionate about american football, then maybe this is the book for you. For me, I am happy for Bleachers to remain on my bookshelf gathering dust, and not get so excited about his newest novel next time...
on 5 October 2003
John Grisham is an amazing storyteller and could spin a yarn about nothing - see the Painted House as a classic example. Bleachers is his clearest example to date of how to tell a story about nothing. However, enjoyable as Grisham's words and style are, this can only be described as "self indulgent". A lengthy commentary on an American football match makes the middle section almost unreadable for novices of the sport. It is a thin volume too which makes it a somewhat expensive read. I admire Grisham branching into unchartered genres and I loved Skipping Christmas and Painted House. This, though, I was almost glad to put back on the shelf.
on 15 January 2004
I am like many readers,I find an author I love and will read everything they write,often pre-ordering the title.
John Grisham is one of these authors. I love his legal thrillers where each page reveals another shock or twist and you cannot wait to get to the thrilling climax.
I even brought 'A painted House' and 'Skipping Christmas' , even though I knew they would not be legal based.
These books still had the emotion which I like in Grisham but with his latest book I found this completely missing.
Bleachers tells the story of Neely Crenshaw who goes back to his hometown - despite vowing never to do so , when his much hated but equally much loved former coach is dying.He never goes to see the coach , but spends the days before his death reminising with other former football legends in a town where football is more than just a game.If you love American football and understand the rules then you might like this book, its descriptions of 'plays' and 'moves' is detailed and complex.However for those of us that even find rugby too complex to understand this book doesn't mean much.The emotion which should be evident in a book about memories and past glories is lacking and in the end I found myself wondering what it was all about.It was almost as if we were reading the diary pages of a former player -perhaps John Grisham once played?.
I hope John Grisham returns to the courtroom for his next novel , it's what he does best.
on 26 November 2003
I ordered this book with enthusiasm, after reading every other book John Grisham has written and from the opening paragraph I thought, my God, this is soooo boring, what's this all about? If you are an avid American Football fan then you may be remotely interested in the book, although I have to say it is not written in John's usual exciting style.
I have now reached page 60 after persevering with the book, thinking it will pick up in a minute, but alas it hasn't and I don't think I can read another page. I won't be so hasty in future to pick up one of John's books again without reading the synopsis. What a complete waste of money! Maybe he should change his name to Yawn Grisham!
on 23 October 2003
I became almost upset that the main story environment is about American football , as it's something that I have a complete uninterest in. BUT, Grisham strikes again with his amazing ability to capture me, and I cannot put the book down. It's not about American football, it's about life! After trudging through the section with commentary and many details of American Football (I have learnt a lot!) I have found that it provides the necessary detail to describe the setting as Grisham classically does. I would say that with Grisham's books, somewhere between page 95 to 115, it becomes incredibly addictive, and this one strikes again, classic to his style. It might have a subject I dislike, but I can still feel Grisham 'spinning a darn good yarn' (phrase often quoted about him from a newspaper critic) around the warmth of a camp fire! Not as good as A Painted House, or Skipping Christmas, not sure where this one lies actually. Worth the buy, but get it on the cheap, don't lash out full price at the local bookstore just to get it in a rush.
on 10 October 2003
This is the second novel that i have read for John Grisham that is not a Courtroom Thriller ( the first one was the heart touching (Skipping Christmas) ) , and based on my reading i think that Grisham Has proved so much talent in writing those 2 off genre books .
The story focuses on the main Character (Neely Crenshaw) who is returning to his hometown after several years of being absent , but his coming back is not for vain , he was the most famous Football player in the Legendary Messina Spartans Team , and his also Legendary Coach ( Eddie Rake ) is living his last days , Neely arrives in town , heads for the bleachers , sits there , meets his old Friends and collegues and begins to remember the old glories .
Things is not actually this easy , for Neely there is some complicated matters , his relationship with his Legendary team has ended from many years in such tragic events , and it was the main reason for leaving his hometown , also he is still regretting his cheating on his Girlfriend (Cameron) who was the only girl he loved during his Glory days .
Neely beging to question himself , trying hard complete the unfinished business , ties the loose ends , and above all that trying to decide if he is Fogiving his coach or not .
there are many heart touching themes here mixed in this novel , the longing for the past days , the grieving for peole both dead and alive , and trying to find the happiness among all the sadness surrounding the characters of the novel , but the most amazing thing about this novel is Grisham's ability to create a very ALIVE characters , he will make you sympathy for them , hatem them or even cry for them , and here comes the wonder....how Grisham was able to create such ALIVE characters in very small space (163 pages) because you have used for the thickness of his past novels where he sits relations and events during a very comfortable space , but here in this book he was able to make you engage with those characters in only a very limited space , even some charcters gets only mentioned in three or four spots during the novel , but belive me they were very effective characters , and that is a part of Grisham's Talent .
The most effective chacter here is the coach (Eddie Rake) , we have't met him during the novel only from the stories that is told by the other people which their lives were touched by him , and you will realize that he has affected them not only during their Team's days , but during all the days of their lives .
Grisham has delivered a very sweet book full of emotions and questions , it really touched me , and it sure will touch you , it even has given me a brief information about the American Football(which i almost didn't know anything about it ) , but this book is not about the Football , it's about memories , life and death , and the sure thing that when you are folding the last page of this book you will do it with a HIDDEN tear in your eyes and a BITTER smile on your face.
on 4 October 2004
This is a very disappointing effort from Grisham. The basic story is of the high school football team returning to mourn the coach who shaped them all in some way or another. Tries to give the message that just because your having a bad time doesn't mean it won't help you cope with what life throws at you in the future.
Nice thought but it was very slow even though it is also very short.
I expect better from Grisham. I suppose it serves me right for buying a book simply because of the author.