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 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 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 15 September 2003
To be honest I found this book very disappointing. Obviously it was not about the legal world as he normally writes (apart from skipping Christmas(which I also found boring)), but even so, it just did not do it for me. I think John Grisham is a fantastic writer, but I think he had a day to spare and came up with this. The content was boring and I found myself skipping paragraphs and realized that I had not missed any of the story line in doing so. Mr Grisham - if you read this - I'm sorry, but please don't do this again. I can't wait to read your next book on the moral and personal battles within the legal profession because this is truly what you do best.
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 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 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 22 September 2003
I have always been a Grisham fan, although none of his books subsequent books lived up to his first (A Time to Kill), but this is one book I am sorry to have bought and read. The story never goes anywhere; you read the book waiting for something to happen and it just never does. Even after you have finished it you wonder whether you have missed the point. Then you realise it is Grisham who has lost the plot!
on 22 July 2004
It's been a while since I read any of John Grisham's books. The familiar theme of Southern US lawyers bucking the system was beginning too run a bit dry for me, so when I saw this book on holiday, I thought I'd give it a try.
The book is short - I read it in less than four hours in one session. There are no lawyers! The central theme involves the relationship between players and their dying coach (Eddie Rake) over several years of High School American football. While this type "football" is not that popular in Europe, many Europeans will feel the same parallel relationship with rugby, soccer, tennis, etc, coaches that occur in this book. The actual sport doesn't matter.
The descriptions of the town of Messina are good, but not quite to the depth of atmosphere in (say) Death Row in "The Chamber" - this is a completely different novel from what has come before from Grisham.
Grisham the story teller shines through, though in a very diiferent way from the thrillers that we are used to. Fans of Grisham will be surprised with this book.
The book is very short, so look for bargain copies - I bought for 7 euro in a book sale. Read it in one or two sessions and you will not be disappointed.