I downloaded John Grisham’s Ford County: Stories (2009) from EVPL’s Digital Library before heading out on my holiday road trip, Thanksgiving 2009. I started out pretty early in the morning listening to this wonderful collection of short stories read by the author; Grisham is not at his best as a reader. For the most part authors should leave the reading of their work to actors. Grisham’s reading is stilted and with odd emphasis at times. He tends to end every sentence with uplift. The first story is the worse for reading style, thereafter either I got used to his reading or he got more comfortable with the reading.
Grisham returns to Clanton, Ford County, Mississippi, and the vicinity for the setting of most of these stories. There is a wide range of storyline and characters. Unique and entertaining, the stories are small and intimate tales of small town and rural life.
My favorite of the tales is “Fetching Raymond.” It is well written and draws you into the story slowly with heartbreak and humor. Grisham excels at writing heartbreak with humor. “Fetching Raymond” is reminiscent of Erskine Caldwell’s Tobacco Road (1932) and God’s Little Acre (1933), both favorites of mine.
Several stories involve lawyers. These lawyers and their tales are very different than what Grisham has written in the past. His enjoyment in writing these stories is apparent to the reader.
If you have enjoyed Grisham in the past, especially his writings outside the courtroom, you will enjoy these short stories. I would recommend reading instead of listening on this one.