David's Reviews > Ford County

Ford County by John Grisham
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's review
May 15, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: completed
Read in May, 2011

Did you ever read a book about an area and decide that you might want to go and visit or perhaps retire in that area? John Grisham's Ford County, a collection of stories, had the reverse effect on me. I don't ever want to even get close to that geographical area. Why? It appears that Ford County, if Grisham's works here are any indication, is the capitol of Deep, Dark, Depression, U.S.A. The people in these stories are all so sad and their situations are so dark that on would need the light from a nuclear explosion to provide the light that a candle provides to a dark room.

One recurring theme in the stories is the small-town rumor mill. From the first story about an injured worker in the city to the final story about a hometown boy returning home with AIDS-- almost every story featured the small-town rumor mill working overtime. In some cases the rumors were comical, in others they were depressing.

The other recurring theme is a sense of hopelessness for some folks. For example, one family goes up to the prison to visit their relative who is on death row. The hopelessness and the stark reality of facing his fate and the cessation of further stays of execution was utterly depressing. The lawyer, who is brought face-to-face with the family on the other side of a case and their brain-damaged child offers no hope, just utter sorrow for how some folks are forced to live. The slow and agonizing death of the AIDS afflicted man in a town where he is ostracized by both his lifestyle and disease was a discouragement. The guys who go to the big city in order to give blood for an injured friend, but end up making it a drunken journey leave the reader stunned with their callous behavior.

The stories were all depressing. The fact that they were well written means little. I've read books with hit-or-miss stories-- some impressing me with their tale and others forcing me to skip over them. These all were compelling enough to make me feel the need to complete them, but each one left me wondering, "Why did the author bother to write this interesting story that has such unsatisfying conclusions."

Finally, it hit me. Grisham was writting to the people of that area. Perhaps he was subtly telling them to get a life. Either way, for me, it was a message that was meant for someone else. Rather than feeling a naughty thrill from reading someone else's mail, I felt it was sort of like reading my mother-in-laws promitional letters from publisher's clearing house. Not worthy of much interest, so move on.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Carla Adams While I did not grow up in Mississippi , I did grow up in a very small town and the rumor mill was JUST like the ones in the story! I agree the stories were depressing but they did spark conversation on the underlying themes.

Romanmr It bugs me when people give low ratings to books because the stories in them are sad or depressing. Good literature does not have to be all upbeat and cheerful.

Joseph Lawrence I agree. The stories are just as you described: corrupt characters slithering through a corrupt world.

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