Saturday, January 08, 2005

Why I hate John Grisham

I will concede JG sometimes comes up with a good story. But many of his plots -- while interesting -- seem to have a fundamental flaw that I can't get over. Examples:

The Chamber - Young new lawyer takes on death penalty case of his uncle (or whatever).
The problem: the guy being defended *deserves* to die. I couldn't rally behind the cause at all since afaic, that's what the gas chamber is *for* -- to kill people who bomb churches and murder little black girls.

A Time To Kill – Dad shoots his daughter's rapists, goes to trial.
The problem: You feel for the dad, and root for him, but when he goes free in the end what we're celebrating is an extremely unlikely miscarriage of justice. His lawyer’s closing statement is basically that "vigilante-ism is okay because the crime was so heinous, and because you (the jury) would feel differently if the girl was white instead of black."

The Client – A kid witnesses a mafia murder in the woods. Now the kid wont' talk because he's afraid the mob will kill him.
The problem: their motivation to silence him would at its absolute highest as long as he *hasn't* testified. As long as the kid hasn't yet said anything, they can move freely (ie, they’re not arrested) and they have a huge motivation to bury the secret before it gets out.
If I'm a bad guy, and I find out my witness hasn't talked yet, do I think
"Cool, he hasn't talked yet. That probably means he'll never tell, so let's leave him alone on the chance that the most influential people in his life -- law enforcement, his parents, etc -- will be unable to convince him to spill the story."
or do I think
"Cool, he hasn't talked yet. I still have a chance to get off scott free if I can just silence him for good"
I'll tell you the answer: it's the second one.
As soon as the kid tells what he knows, their only motive would be revenge (not nearly as strong a motivator as survival). He'd likely be *safer* if he told since
a) Then the bad guys would have other problems on their hands (ie, arrest, defense, etc),
b) killing him would now be more difficult because of the scrutiny on them, and
c) killing him would no longer benefit them.
Every second you remain the Sole Holder of the Secret is another second where you are the Prime Target. It made no sense to me at all.

And beside all that:
1. He writes ludicrous dialog.
2. His sentence construction and general usage of language are amateurish. His vocabulary is miniscule. He uses words/phrases he doesn't know the meaning of.
3. He sometimes attempts to address issues (eg, poverty, racism) that he has only the barest understanding about, and comes off as an idiot.
4. It annoys me that he’s become fabulously wealthy peddling this crap to an undiscriminating public, while thousands of authors who are in every way his superior struggle to make a living at their craft.

But other than that, he's great .


At Sun Jan 09, 07:37:00 AM PST, Blogger No_Newz said...

I feel your pain. You know there are better bloggers than paid writers out there?! Crazy! Of course it's tough to snuggle up with a computer and lay in bed reading a rainy day away. I say to you get yourself a good publicist like JG has and get your butt writing a book.
See, it's that easy, problem solved.
Lois Doing All She Can To Save The World Lane

At Sun Jan 09, 05:00:00 PM PST, Blogger unca said...

And yet, we continue to read him. HMMM.

At Sun Jan 09, 08:49:00 PM PST, Blogger bryan torre said...

Thanks for the advice, Lois. After you... :-)

Unca: Yes, well, hmm. Not sure why I keep doing that.

At Mon Jan 10, 08:39:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same thing bugged me about 'the client', too,
so I immediately bought the next grisham book as soon as it became available. That was a long time ago though, and I'm on a different life course now. -Kire

At Mon Jan 10, 03:24:00 PM PST, Blogger anya ransuns aka Roxy said...

Amen, brother. There is no post on earth that I can second more heartily than one entitled "Why I hate John Grisham." Every once in awhile I have tried to get through a book of his. (Mostly so I could say I have actually tried to read his steaming piles of excrement that masquerade as "books.") I started A Time to Kill -- disgusting in the extreme in the very beginning, gratuitously violent and unnecessary for the story. I stopped reading. I did see the movie and I agree with you on the ending. WHATEVER. I actually did read The Firm all the way through (first one I knew about - I didn't know he was evil yet), which made a good movie. The ONLY thing going for our buddy John is that he can think of a good plot. Can he write it down, develop characters, TIE UP the many pieces of his subplots, or grasp the very basics of English grammar? No, he cannot. The main plot thing is why, occasionally, his books make good movies -- he can think of a good IDEA, and since there is no character development at all, descriptions of anything, or extra detail in his books, you don't miss the absence of those things in the movie.

Unca, does that "we" mean "society" or something? YOU strike me as too much of a research librarian intellectual type to stoop to the likes of Johnny's book-rack-at-the-Safeway-checkout-stand-inhabiting self...

THAT'S what The Chamber is about? What's with his fascination with writing books where horrible things happen to black people? I can see revisiting a horrible event like this in a book where PROSECUTING the guy is the point. But defending him? Ah, what a warm and fuzzy way to celebrate our civil liberties.

P.S. I don't watch my English too closely in a blog comment, but if *I* were having a novel published, and I had no idea how to navigate the English language in written form, I think I would make sure I had someone, like, EDIT it.

At Mon Jan 10, 05:34:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anya and John, sittin' in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!!

j/k, Good points. I just wish you were less ambiguous, because there's no reason not to let your opinion be known. :) -Kire

At Tue Jan 11, 06:47:00 AM PST, Blogger unca said...

Well, Roxy, I guess I meant "we" being the readers of this post. If Grisham is really that bad, you'd think one book would be enough to stop us. As for me, I think I've read three Grisham novels. I started his latest and thought it was really, really lame so I put it down and I think I'm through with him.

At Wed Jan 12, 03:18:00 PM PST, Blogger anya ransuns aka Roxy said...

Yes, well, Unca, I have to admit I did also read one other one -- about a big tobacco lawsuit-- but that didn't fit into my rant so I didn't includ it. :) I certainly don't plan to read any more. I know that my dislike of him is aggravaged by the fact that people always ask me if I've read/like his books. There's no polite way to say, "I hate him and I can't understand how he could possibly be so popular, but it must be that the populace are idiots..."

At Wed Aug 06, 09:35:00 AM PDT, Blogger Simone said...

we are all entitled to our own opinionsi think that john grisham is great i do losts of reading and he is fa better than some other writers. his books are rea page turners meaning you just cat stop turning you have to know what comes next. For those of you who do not like his books don't read them its that simple but dont criticize if you cant do any better


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