Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Review: Calico Joe by John Grisham

Calico Joe

Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Date of Publication: March 26, 2013
Pages: 240 (Trade Paperback)

      It's almost October and playoff baseball time.  This is the perfect book to read to get into the proper World Series frame of mind.  John Grisham, known as a master of the legal thriller, has penned a very good baseball novel.  It captures the magic of baseball for young boys and the triumphs and tragedies of men playing a boy's game for high stakes.  The author does a great job of including some of the nuances of baseball strategy and the "baseball code" which are entertaining for baseball fans but not so obscure that they would bore the non-fan.

     The story is told by an adult male, the son of a former major league player.  As a youngster in the 1970s he listens to games on the radio, avidly computes statistics and keeps notebooks with newspaper and magazine clippings on his favorite players, including his father, a journeyman pitcher for the New York Mets.   I can relate to this character in every regard except my father didn't play baseball.  He is captivated by the story of a young phenom for the Chicago Cubs, "Calico Joe", who flashes on the baseball scene performing Ruthian feats with his bat and speed.  The intertwined tales of Calico Joe, the kids father and their tumultuous interaction and its effect on all parties including the narrator are magically told. It's a story of fathers and sons, tragedy and regret and the power of forgiveness. 

     There's really nothing to dislike abut this book.  The characters are a bit stereotyped but very engaging.  The plot, although fairly predictable, is very satisfying.  There is humor, pathos and irony mixed in just about equal perfect proportions.  This was a fun book to read and I enjoyed it very much.  Play ball!

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