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Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book Review: Calico Joe

calico joe review
Baseball season is upon us.  In order to get in the mood, I decided to read Calico Joe by John Grisham.

In Calico Joe, Grisham departs from the world of legal intrigue and delves into the world of baseball.  The narrative bounces back and forth between modern day and the summer of 1973.  In both settings, the story is told from the first person perspective of Paul Tracey, son of fictional, major league pitcher Warren Tracey.

The clarification that Warren Tracey is fictional is an important one because the action in 1973 is set within the context of a real baseball season.  Real teams, real ballparks and real players serve as the backdrop for the fictional action.

This interweaving of real baseball references led the Washington Times to declare that Grisham "knows his way around the ballpark as well as he does a courtroom."  The trouble is, Grisham doesn't actually know his way around a courtroom all that well (I am a lawyer, I get to say these things).  What normally sets Grisham apart from the competition is not legal realism.  It is rich characters and detailed southern settings.  Calico Joe lacks both of those characteristics.

Die hard baseball fans will likely find the baseball storyline fantastical and irritating.  Fans of a good yarn about a father and son will likely find that storyline lacking depth and insight.  If you are looking for an audio book to distract you on the treadmill, then Calico Joe might fit the bill.  But, if you are looking for the baseball version of A Time to Kill, you will be sorely disappointed.


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